The gambling business in Poland is legal. Operators’ activities are regulated by the Gambling Act, which was released on November 19, 2009 (as amended on May 26, 2011 and January 1, 2017). Online gambling is very strictly regulated: only four Polish companies can operate it legally. The regulator is the Ministry of Finance.
In 2015, 49 land-based casinos operated in the country. Their income was EUR 126 million. The staff consisted of about 2,000 people. Approximately one million visitors visit the establishments every year.
The gross income from the online gambling market in 2015 amounted to EUR 83.2 million. The tax levied on operators of online casinos is 12% of the annual revenue.
Gambling legislation of Poland
The severity of the Gambling Games Act is due to the circumstances of its entry into force. In 2009, there was a political scandal related to lobbying for amendments to the old Act on Games and Betting. Slot machines became the basis of the scandal, therefore the law practically prohibits slots, leaving them only within the casino. The Gambling Games Act regulates both land-based and online platforms.
The law divides gambling into three classes:
- games of chance (lottery, roulette, cards, craps, bingo);
- bets (tote and bookmaking);
- slot machines.
Online business has no definition. The law contains provisions for gambling or betting over the Internet.
Minors (under 18 years old) can only participate in promo lotteries and raffles lotteries. All gambling, bingo, betting, slot machines are placed only on the appropriate sites: casinos, bingo halls and places where bets are made.
Permitted games in Poland
Poker is defined as one of the games of chance. The only legal form of poker is tournaments organized in casinos with at least 10 players.
Sports betting is allowed both online and in land-based establishments. It is forbidden to place bets on the results of numbered games (like keno). Distinguish between bookmaking and sweepstakes.
Casino games are only allowed in the respective establishments. These are cylindrical games (including roulette), card games (blackjack, poker, baccarat), craps and slot machines. Terminal games are classified as slot machines.
Bingo and lotteries are divided into several types. Depending on the species, they have different regulations. For example, money lotteries and bingo are a government monopoly. Number games (keno) are also legal only if organized by the state. Raffles parlors may open without permission. It is worth noting that bingo is almost non-existent in Poland.
Gambling regulators in Poland
The gambling business in Poland is regulated by the Ministry of Finance. It determines which games are considered gambling and issues licenses to casinos, bingo halls and betting points. Control over implementation is carried out by the Customs Chamber.
The Director of the Chamber issues permits for lottery and bingo, imposes fines for illegal business, conducts inspections. The heads of the provincial customs offices also inspect and collect taxes.
Gambling licenses in Poland
Licenses in Poland are divided into three types:
- for casinos;
- for cash bingo salons;
- to place bets.
The number of casinos and bingo rooms is limited. It is permissible to open only one casino and bingo hall for every 250,000 city residents. Another limit is no more than one casino per 650,000 province residents. Establishments can also open on cruise ships.
Licenses are issued for a specific institution – a casino, a bingo salon, establishments with numbered games and sports betting. Events are also separately licensed: poker tournaments, lottery issues. Only companies with a registered office in Poland can run a gambling establishment.
No separate permission required:
- promo lotteries;
- raffles lottery;
- bingo raffles.
To obtain a license, you must submit a package of documents. It includes information about the applicant, details of what the license is being asked for, an economic and financial investment plan, and other information. Insurance is also paid – for a casino license in the amount of EUR 260 thousand.
The casino, bingo and betting locations are licensed for 6 years. Poker tournaments last 3 months, and raffles, promo lotteries and audiotele lotteries 2 years. License fees for land-based establishments vary in the following amounts:
- casino – 32,000% of the base amount or approximately EUR 290,000;
- bingo hall – 5,500% of the base amount or approximately 50,000 EUR;
- permission to place bets – 2,000% of the base value or 18,000 EUR plus 50% of each bet making point;
- raffles lottery and bingo – 100% or 900 EUR. If the game is played in only one province, then 50% or 450 EUR;
- promo lotteries and audiotele lotteries – 10% of the total value of the prizes, but not less than 50% of the base amount (approximately 250 EUR);
- poker tournaments – 100% or 900 EUR.
The base amount per calendar year is the monthly average remuneration (excluding revenue bonuses).
Online gambling in Poland
All casino games are prohibited online. Only online betting is allowed, which is taxed at 12% of the proceeds. In this case, the tax is levied on the players’ bets.
The online operator must be physically present in Poland. The website must have a domain that belongs to the country. All transactions must be made through Polish banks.
As a result, there are few licensed operators:
- Fortuna Entertainment
A study by the Ministry of Finance found that only 9% of users play on legal Polish sites. More than 20,000 people play on illegal sites. The total winnings received amounted to almost EUR 6 million. The report, posted on the ministry’s website, said that a criminal investigation had been launched into more than 1,000 people.
In general, the online games market in Poland is estimated at 13 billion EUR annually, which means that the government loses almost 160 million EUR. In 2016 and 2017, a massive exodus of operators from the Polish market followed. William Hill ceased operations in the country on April 1, 2017.
Popular slot machines in Poland
Among the most popular slot machines in Poland are:
- Sizzling Hot;
- Copy Cats;
- Fairytale Legends: Hansel and Gretel;
- Shangri La;
- Twin Spin.
Gambling software developers
Many well-known firms have offices in Poland. Most often, these are studios where slot machines and other games are created. For example, Yggdrasil: the development office is located in Krakow and the administrative office is located in Malta.
There are other manufacturers dealing with slot machines, casino games, cabinets and casino equipment:
- Apollo Games;
- Alpa Electronic Games;
- Fox Group;
- Nowogames S.A .;
- Synot Polska.
The casino production industry in Poland is quite developed.
Prospects for the development of gambling business in Poland
With the tightening of legislation, the gambling market in Poland is developing worse. The government is losing quite large sums. So far, however, the authorities prefer to prosecute users for playing on illegal sites.
At the same time, production is well developed in the country: there are many studios for the development of slot machines.
In general, the future of the gambling market is seen as uncertain. When the authorities pass more lenient and reasonable laws to regulate the gambling business, the situation may change in favor of its development.