While sports betting and casino online sites are legal in most of Europe, almost every country has different regulations. For example, some countries only legalize land-based casinos and ban online slots. Some countries may choose to ban casino games and legalize sports betting. So, what is the situation in Poland? Is gambling legal in this country, and if so, what types of gambling are allowed? We answer these questions below.
Is Gambling Legal in Poland?
The answer to this question is yes: both land-based and online gambling is legal. This includes both casino games and sports betting. But both are subject to strict restrictions. In this regard, Poland is considered to be one of the European countries with the most restrictive regulations regarding legal gambling.
Let’s start from the beginning: the law regulating legal gambling in Poland is called the Act on Gambling Games (Ustawa o grach hazardowych), and this is a 2009 law. Unlike other European countries, Poland had to pass this law because of a scandal: in 2009, it was revealed that there were many high-ranking government officials lobbying for the gambling industry, all of whom had to resign. The scandal caused such a backlash that the Polish government had to pass that law to regulate and control gambling legally, and for the same reason, the law contained very strict provisions. This situation still continues today.
According to the law, gambling games are divided into four basic categories: games of chance, betting, card games and slot machines. Likewise, games that can be purchased with virtual currency or in-game credits, even if they are free to play, are also covered by the law: this means that many mobile games will also fall into the “gambling” category. If we make a general assessment, we can say that the law mainly regulates land-based gambling: there are not many provisions about online gambling.
Who Regulates Gambling in Poland?
The law gave the task of regulation to the Ministry of Finance. The Ministry is authorized to determine whether a game falls into the gambling category. And if it decides that the game is gambling, the company offering it has to get a license. The Ministry is also authorized to issue this license. In terms of license types, we can provide the following information:
- A land-based casino license is required to offer land-based casino games. In regions with a population of up to 250,000 people, there can be at most one casino. In order to have two casinos in a region, the population must be at least 500,000 people. For three casinos… You get what we mean, for each casino the population needs to increase by 250,000. Casino licenses are valid for 6 years, and payment of PLN 1,645,036.80 is required for 2020.
- Bingo halls require a separate license, and regions with a population of up to 100,000 can only have one bingo hall. Bingo hall licenses are also valid for 6 years, and payment of PLN 282,740.70 is required for 2020.
- There is no population restriction for land-based betting. You can open betting shops as long as you pay the license fee of PLN 102,814.80 (valid for 2020).
Online Gambling in Poland
So, what is the situation with online gambling? Before we start explaining this, we need to point out one thing: by law, only state-owned businesses can own online casinos in Poland. Online services provided by a private company are limited to sports betting. In other words, private companies cannot obtain an online casino license even if they wanted to. In this respect, there is a monopoly. It has long been claimed that this is against EU directives, and there may be a change in the near future. Until then, however, private companies can only offer online betting (and lottery) services. To obtain an online gambling license to be used for this purpose:
- It is necessary to show a guarantee of PLN 480,000. It is sufficient to deposit this amount in a Polish bank.
- A minimum license fee of PLN 462,666.60 per site must be paid. A company that has an online gambling license can open multiple sites with this license, there is no restriction in this regard. However, you have to pay this license fee for each site.
- Only domain names ending in “.pl” are allowed for web addresses of these sites.
The law states that it is illegal to play at sites that do not have an official online gambling license (for example, an international online casino). The Polish government has the right to block access to such sites. There are no legal sanctions for players playing on these sites. However, all financial institutions (e.g., banks) in Poland have to refuse money transfers to and from unlicensed gambling sites. In other words, you cannot send money to unlicensed sites or withdraw funds from them.
Gambling winnings are subject to an income tax. However, this applies only to lotteries, betting and telebingo. If you win a prize in these games, you have to pay a 10% tax. Winnings from other games (i.e., slot machines, card games, dice games, bingo, etc.) are tax-free.