Poland: Key points to be regulated by the new amendment to the Polish Gambling Act

On Monday 23 May, the Ministry of Finance (the Polish gambling regulator (“Regulator“)), published a list of points to be covered by the forthcoming amendment to the Polish Gambling Act. According to the list, the amendment will cover the following points:

  1. IP and payment blocking will target unlicenced operators. This should reduce the “grey area” in gambling, increase the market share of licenced operators, and raise the level of protection for players, because – according to the Regulator – only licenced operators guarantee the offering of games in a safe and responsible way.
  2. The operation of slot machine games outside casinos will be covered by a state monopoly and operated by a designated company. They will only be operated in designated places, under permanent supervision, and will not be available for people under the age of 18.
  3. Operators offering games on slot machines and online gambling will be required to introduce responsible gaming regulations which should increase the protection of players from the negative effects of gambling.
  4. Sanctions for violating the Polish Gambling Act will be more severe (however, it is not specified what this means). This will disrupt unlicenced operators and thus increase the market share of licenced operators.
  5. The regulation of poker games will be liberalized. It will be permitted to organize poker games outside casinos and the process of organizing them will be simplified. It will be possible to legally participate in online poker games.
  6. The requirement for people directly supervising and operating gambling games to pass professional exams will be liquidated. The exams will be replaced by training obligations. According to the Regulator, this should  reduce red tape and the costs for entities operating in the gambling industry.

According to the Ministry of Finance, these proposals represent a compromise between providing the highest possible level of protection for players against the adverse effects of gambling (including limiting the “grey area”) and guaranteeing the transparent and efficient functioning of the legal gambling market in Poland.

According to the Regulator’s announcement, the draft amendment has been transferred to departmental consultation. If enacted following EC notification, the amendment will come into force on 1 January 2017.

The key issue that is missing from the above list – and the most important issue for any onshore and offshore operator – is that of taxation. The announcement does not say anything about whether Polish gaming tax will be based on GGR under the amendment.

The proposed timing for the introduction of the amendment is quite challenging as it does not seem to take into consideration the fact that the EC notification process may take longer than three months stand-still. Another question mark is whether there will be any transitional period for operators to adjust their activities and apply for licences under the new regime.

The link to the full text of the Regulator’s announcement: http://www.mf.gov.pl/ministerstwo-finansow/wiadomosci/aktualnosci/-/asset_publisher/M1vU/content/mf-przygotowalo-projekt-nowelizacji-ustawy-hazardowej?redirect=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.mf.gov.pl%2Fministerstwo-finansow%2Fwiadomosci%2Faktualnosci%3Fp_p_id%3D101_INSTANCE_M1vU%26p_p_lifecycle%3D0%26p_p_state%3Dnormal%26p_p_mode%3Dview%26p_p_col_id%3Dcolumn-2%26p_p_col_count%3D1#p_p_id_101_INSTANCE_M1vU_