Poland’s monopoly online casino launch delayed until H2


poland-online-casino-launch-delayPoland’s gamblers will have to wait a while longer for the ability to play at an online casino – one the government approves of, at least.

A few days before Christmas, Poland’s deputy finance minister Piotr Walczak found himself in the unenviable position of informing the public that the national lottery operator’s online casino site won’t be ready to launch until the third or fourth quarter of 2018.

A little over a year ago, Poland amended its gambling laws to permit online casino, poker and bingo products alongside the existing online sports betting sites. However, the new products would be the sole responsibility of the state-owned Totalizator Sportowy.

Last August, the lottery operator was supposed to open a tender for a technology partner to power its ‘eKasyno’ offering. However, a freedom of information request from opposition MPs forced Walczak to confirm that the tender didn’t actually start taking bids until November, and the government has yet to designate which lucky suitor will get to escort Totalizator Sportowy to the online casino ball.

The news is slightly better on the lottery operator’s plans to launch slot machines outside casinos (again, with no competitors). While Totalizator Sportowy is still negotiating with suppliers, Walczak claims the first of these new slots halls is expected to open in the current quarter.

In addition to starting the year off without an officially approved online casino option, Polish gamblers are also dealing with a new 10% tax on gambling winnings, which officially took effect on January 1. The law, which won Senate approval on December 20 despite public and industry protests, applies to all casino and slot winnings of over PNL 2,280 (US $663).

Despite high taxes and limited options, the Ministry of Finance recently declared that its efforts to channel Polish punters into legally acceptable online wagering were meeting with some success. Online betting with Polish-licensed operators reportedly provided PLN 137.8m ($40m) to the state budget in the first nine months of 2017.

Meanwhile, the nation’s ever-expanding online gambling blacklist officially tipped 1,300 domains as of Wednesday. Among the rapscallions recently enshrined on this online wall of shame were multiple domains belonging to Russian operator 1xbet, along with Curacao licensees Betrally, RUbet and Dotabet.