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Gambling in Poland: betting and online casinos

Poland’s gambling market has great prospects! The government is actively engaged in legalizing and developing online gambling and betting in the country. A network of land-based casinos has been established in Poland, attracting visitors from all over Europe (including Russia) and generating huge profits. Understanding the benefits of the development of gambling and betting in Poland, lawmakers have been steadily helping this business sector to develop.

The main law regulating gambling in Poland was adopted in November 2009. It is important that its rules apply to both land-based and online gambling facilities.

In 2016, amendments were adopted to regulate unlicensed operators. They came into force from April 2017: a register (“black list”) of unlicensed sites was created by the Office of the Poland’s Ministry of Finance. This list includes websites of unlicensed brands targeting Poles (e.g., using the Polish language), providers (not blocking banned sites), payment systems (for transfers to illegal sites).

What kind of gambling is allowed in Poland?

According to 2021, 4 types of gambling are officially allowed in Poland:

  • numbers games, roulette, dice games, bingo, lottery;
  • card games: blackjack, poker, baccarat only;
  • sports betting, including sweepstakes; 
  • slot machines.

A separate license is required to organize each type of gaming.

How are online casinos and bookmakers organized in Poland?

Only two types of online gambling are legal in Poland: sports betting and lottery with a special offer.

As of autumn 2021, according to the website of the Ministry of Finance, 21 betting shops in Poland are licensed to accept online betting. Major global brands include E-TOTO, Fortune, TotalBet, forBET, eWinner and Mr BET.

Online casinos are legal in Poland, but there is a state monopoly on them. According to the Ministry of Finance, only Totalizator Sportowy (under the brand name Total Casino) obtained a license for “other types of gambling”. It is a state-owned company run by the Treasury, offering bookmaker facilities and some online casino services.

Poker in Poland is officially allowed only in land-based casinos with centralized tournaments. But in 2017, a new option became available: the development of card games, where the user can play against other live players for a cash prize (but not more than 500 euros), became allowed. Thus, operators can arrange online poker for a Polish audience.

Gambling tax in Poland

Gambling tax in Poland must be paid by the organizers (physical or legal person) of any gambling games after getting a license.

Tax rates depend on the type of game:

  • betting on animal competitions – 2.5%
  • lottery and bingo – 10%;
  • sports betting – 12%.
  • cash lottery – 15%;
  • numbers games – 20%;
  • bingo, TV bingo, bingo with audio text and poker (tournaments) – 25%;
  • slot machines, roulette, dice and card games except poker in the form of a poker tournament – 50%.

H2 Gambling Capital estimates that about PLN 8 billion (USD 473 million) could be collected from Internet gambling taxation already under the current operating conditions. In comparison, in 2020 the total amount of taxes in Poland reached PLN 900 million. However, the market could reach 5.8 billion PLN ($1.52 billion). If the entire potential is realized, it would yield 2.3 billion PLN ($600 million) in taxes. However, in order to do so, the state would have to suspend the ban on advertising and abandon the monopoly.

Blocking gambling sites in Poland

Poland has a blacklist of platforms and providers that do not respect local laws. It may include websites of unlicensed online casinos and bookmakers, as well as internet and payment providers.

All transfers to gambling sites in Poland must be made through local banks, so payment systems can also be blocked for “cooperation” with unlicensed operators.

Once enrolled in the register, the hosting owner is required to block access to the site’s services and place a message on the homepage stating that the platform operates without a license and is under sanctions by the Ministry of Finance.

The offender has 30 days to appeal against inclusion on the list of blocked websites. However, the regulator is not obliged to notify the gaming site of the sanctions applied, so it is rare to apply in time.

As of July 2021, there were around 15,000 blocked domains on the register.

How to advertise gambling in Poland?

Advertising of gambling and betting in Poland is strictly regulated by law.

It is forbidden under current legislation to advertise all permitted gambling games in such forms:

  • direct advertising and public presentation of any gambling-related services; 
  • The image of brands and distinctive (recognizable) signs of gambling operators;
  • The dissemination of information about where the games are played and how to participate in them; 
  • Advertising anything that resembles gambling paraphernalia; 
  • giving away or selling items, tokens, tickets; 
  • any form of public encouragement, persuasion of the benefits and inducement to participate.

How to attract players from Poland to casino and betting sites?

The Republic of Poland is a country in Central Europe with a population of around 40 million people. The country is mono-ethnic, with the majority of its inhabitants referring to themselves as Poles. The official language is Polish and the local currency is the zloty.  As of January 1, 2021, the minimum wage will be around 630 euros.

Interestingly, the country has abolished income tax for those under 26 years old and earning less than 20,000 euros per year. Experts estimate this to be around 2 million people.

It is legal to participate in gambling from the age of 18.

The country’s legislation prescribes fines for participation in illegal gambling. At the same time, officials specify that liability may arise even if such gambling is done unknowingly. This means that every user from Poland has to check whether a betting or casino site has a license. However, no actual application of this rule has been recorded.

In September 2021, H2 Gambling Capital published data on the state of the Polish gambling market. The study was conducted at the request of the state monopoly Totalizator Sportowy. According to the data, 1.5% of adult Poles played on illegal betting sites and 2.6% participated in poker or casino games. This means that about 1.16 million adult Polish citizens were involved in illegal gambling during 2020.

Poland’s most visited Internet resources (based on data for summer 2021 from Alexa, statista.com website):

  • Google search engine – 97%;
  • Social media: Facebook (over 79% of traffic), also popular SnapChat, Instagram, Youtube, Twitter;
  • online shop Allegro (local equivalent of Ebay);
  • news portals: Onet.pl, Wirtualna Polska, Interia.pl, Gazeta.pl and o2.pl.

Sports are very popular among Poles; a healthy lifestyle is a priority. Polish residents are also active fans: football and local teams (Legia Warszawa, Lech Poznan, Piast Gliwice, Pogon Szczecin, KS Racow Czestochowa) are particularly popular. Poles are also interested in ski jumping, volleyball, the Olympic Games, handball, boxing, Formula 1 racing and basketball.

Violation of the Gambling Law in Poland

An administrative fine may be imposed for:

  • organization of gambling without a license from PLN 100,000 (about USD 25,000) to 5 times the license fee. Also, for illegal organization of gambling in Poland there may be imprisonment for up to 3 years.
  • Gambling in violation of the rules of the issued license is up to 200,000 PLN (50,000 USD);
  • Providing premises for illegal gaming – up to PLN 100,000;
  • Provider of payment services – up to PLN 250,000 ($65,000);
  • A participant of a gambling game organized without a license – 100% of the winnings received, not reduced by the amount of the bets paid;
  • A Telecommunication Enterprise for providing access to banned websites – PLN 250,000
  • arranging a gambling game, the organization of which is a state monopoly – up to PLN 500,000;
  • Various fines are also imposed for violation of the law on gambling advertising. 

Gambling and betting in Poland: money and trends

According to H2 Gambling Capital for 2020, the current potential size of the online gambling market in Poland is estimated at PLN 4.1 billion (USD 1.08 billion) under current regulation. Of this amount, PLN 900 million, equivalent to $236 million, is accounted for by offshore gambling companies.

In 2016, the share of offshore gambling in Poland was 80%. After the legalization of betting shops and lotteries and the emergence of a state-owned casino under the Total Casino brand for 2020, the offshore share dropped to 25% to PLN 629 million ($165 million).

Now about 78% of the entire Polish Internet gambling market is controlled by legal gambling operators. However, experts believe that by 2026 the illegal gambling market in Poland will grow by 3.9% on average, while the regulated market will grow by 4.1%.

Gambling market in Poland has some interesting features which are typical of this particular country.

Features of the Polish gambling market:

  • The Gambling Law clearly prescribes all the rules: how to set up an online casino or online betting shop, rules for advertising gambling, fines for violations.
  • Casinos are legal in the country! Land-based ones exist by their own rules and are actively developing. Online casinos are also legal, but so far only one state-run site is allowed to operate.
  • Betting shops can operate online in Poland, it is necessary to obtain a license.
  • There is a fine for taking part (not only for organizing and running it!) in illegal gambling! However, ignorance is no excuse! Every user is responsible for their gambling and must check whether the site is licensed!
  • The results of legalization are clearly visible “in the money”: there are more and more licensed companies in the market which are making money and paying taxes. 

Poland is currently one of the most profitable online gambling markets in Europe. Online bookmakers are active in the country, making good profits and paying decent taxes to the state treasury. The only online casino in Poland is state-owned and is also doing very well. Perhaps, the authorities will take note of the experts’ information, evaluate the benefits and expand the opportunities for companies that want to organize gambling in this country. Choose Poland offers, drive traffic and make money – the opportunity is there!

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