The European Commission has approved Poland’s plans to amend its gambling laws, including lifting the requirement for international operators to establish a local subsidiary.
The amendments to the Polish Gambling Act were intended to accomplish two goals. First, they resolve the EC’s criticisms that Poland’s gambling laws ran counter to European Union edicts on the movement of goods and services between EU member states. Second, they lift the requirement for operators to create a “permanent establishment” in Poland, which operators had protested as an unnecessary expense.
Despite having opened up its online sports betting market to international firms in 2011, Poland has so far issued just four licenses to Fortuna Entertainment, Milenium, STS and Totolek.
Not to say that international operators aren’t interested in the Polish market. According to the Supreme Audit Office, the number of international sites targeting Polish punters rose from 86 in 2012 to 156 last year. Association of Polish Bookmakers spokesman Pawel Rabantek told Polish daily Rzeczpospolita that these international sites had “conquered” 91% of the online betting market. Rabantek said these sites’ annual turnover topped PLN 5b (€1.2b) and that Poland was missing out on hundreds of millions of zloty in lost tax revenue each year.
Poland’s latest plan to curtail interest in these international operators was a threat to fine and/or imprison gamblers who chose to patronize such sites. Such tactics have been criticized by local bookies, who argue that the state, like O.J. Simpson, should be going after the real killers.