Poland Gambling Laws
Poland online gambling laws are clearly defined in the Gambling Law of 19 November 2009. This statute put very strict regulations in place, and the tight standards are a marked departure from the attitudes about gambling that permeate most of the European Union.
Prior to the enactment of this statute, gambling in Poland was regulated by the terms of the Act on Games and Betting. Gaming lobbyists tried to influence politicians to amend this law to their advantage. The new law is restrictive in large part because the government wanted to make a statement that they could not be bought by gambling lobbies.
Amendment to the Gambling Law
The Polish Parliament adopted an amendment to the 2009 Gambling Law on December 15, 2016. The president made it official when he signed the legislation a couple of weeks later. It went into effect on April 1, 2017.
One very significant component to the amendment addressed Poland's online gambling laws for unlicensed gaming websites that accept Polish players. "Unlicensed" refers to any website that does not hold a Polish online gambling license. These sites were illegal under the Gambling Law as it was originally written, but operators and players routinely ignored the statute.
Under the terms of the amendment, they now compile a register of unlicensed websites, which is tantamount to a blacklist. This is handled by the office of the Minister of Finance. They specifically focus on sites that are available in the Polish language while searching for unlicensed sites that advertise in the country.
Internet service providers are notified when a website is placed on this blacklist. They are then required to block access to the site. Visitors must be automatically rerouted to a website that is operated by the government that explains that the site they were trying to access is on this register.
The amended Poland online gambling laws do allow websites lacking an online gambling license to file an appeal with the Minister of Finance after being placed on the blacklist. There is no requirement for the Minister to notify the operators of a blacklisted website to let them know that they have been placed on the register.
When you read the last sentence, you may immediately think that they will certainly find out when they go to their site. However, if they are accessing it outside of Poland, it wouldn't be blocked.
This amendment takes another very big step that has a tangible impact on unlicensed websites that want to do business in Poland. Payment service providers are not permitted to work with unlicensed gambling websites to facilitate transactions. They have 30 days to comply with this after one of their clients has been entered into the register.
There is a rather harsh penalty for a lack of compliance. The maximum penalty is about 58,000 euros, and this also applies to Internet service providers that violate the Poland online gambling laws for unlicensed gaming sites.
Before the amendment was added to the Gambling Law, sports betting was the only type of online gaming that was legal in Poland. Now, a state-owned company named Totalizator Sportowy can offer online casino-style games. This does not extend to poker; online poker is illegal in Poland.
Speaking of poker; prior to the amendment, it was confined to tournaments that are held at licensed brick-and-mortar casinos. This is still the primary form of legal poker in Poland, but the amendment allows for the development of games that pit players against the house.
It also gives licensed casinos the green light to hold poker tournaments at outside venues. Poker tournaments organized by unlicensed entities or individuals became legal as well, with a maximum top prize of about 500 euros.
Poland Gambling Laws for Brick and Mortar Casinos
There are legal brick-and-mortar casinos, but they are limited in number through the terms of the 2009 Gambling Law. In addition to venues that offer traditional casino games, there are also bingo saloons and land-based sports betting facilities.
Each municipality that has 250,000 citizens or less can have one casino, and there can be another casino for each increment of 250,000 people. For bingo saloons, the rule is one casino for every 100,000 people.
Poland gambling laws allow slot machine parlors as well, and the amendment changed the legal parameters. These are all operated by the same state-owned company that is authorized to offer online casino games: Totalizator Sportowy. There can be as few as three and as many as fifty machines in the slot machine parlors in Poland.