Poland, like many other countries, has a complex and evolving legal framework governing online gambling. This comprehensive guide will provide players with a thorough understanding of the laws, regulations, taxation, and key aspects of online gambling in Poland.
Online gambling in Poland is regulated primarily by the Act on Gambling Games of 2009 (Ustawa o grach hazardowych). Together with amendments, this act outlines the legal framework for both land-based and online gambling activities.
The Act categorizes gambling into four forms. The table below outlines the gambling typology.
|Gambling in Poland|
|Games of chance||Betting||Card games||Slot machine games|
|Games of chance encompass activities where the outcome largely depends on luck, including internet-based games and the rules are specified in the terms and conditions.||Betting involves wagering cash or in-kind prizes. Two subtypes are totalisator systems (pool betting based on total stakes) and bookmaking (fixed-odds betting). Betting can relate to various events, including virtual ones, but not number games like the national lottery.||Card games like blackjack, poker, and baccarat are subject to gambling regulations only when cash or in-kind prizes are involved. Other forms of card games are outside gambling regulations.||Slot machines are games played using mechanical, electromechanical, electronic devices, or computers, with an element of chance, even if prizes are in-kind or additional playtime. The definition is broad and may cover video games with gambling-like features.|
Games of chance include number games, cash lotteries, raffle lotteries, promotional lotteries, and audiotex lotteries. Roulette and dice games are defined as cylindrical games.
Even a minor element of chance qualifies a game as a game of chance, though interpretations vary. Skill-based competitions, like competitive sports, are not considered gambling under Polish law.
Challenges and Grey Areas
Poland's strict gambling laws sometimes make it difficult to classify certain activities. For instance, free prize draws and fantasy league-style contests fall into grey areas. For such cases, the Act allows seeking binding interpretations from the Ministry of Finance.
These laws apply uniformly throughout Poland. Municipalities have limited say in the placement of gambling venues.
The Act doesn't make a detailed distinction between online and land-based gambling. Betting and promotional lotteries can be conducted online with permits.
In any case, to legally offer online gambling services to Polish players, operators must obtain a license from the Ministry of Finance.
The State Monopolies and the Private Sector
State control and private enterprise in Poland's gambling sector have evolved over time.
Initially, only number games, cash lotteries, and telebingo were under the state monopoly. However, since April 2017, the state monopoly's scope has significantly expanded. The state-owned company Totalizator Sportowy sp z o.o. now has exclusive rights to offer online casino-style games and operate slot machine parlors. Additionally, Totalizator Sportowy gained exclusive permission to organize multi-jurisdictional lotteries in Poland, a new addition to the market.
Private entities play a significant role in other areas governed by gambling regulations. They manage casinos, betting shops, betting websites, various lottery types, and bingo. However, certain licenses come with quotas, restricting the number of casinos and bingo saloons throughout Poland.
Licensing and Regulation in Poland
Online gambling operators must obtain a license to operate in Poland legally. The Ministry of Finance issues the licenses, which are subject to strict requirements. These requirements include:
- Financial stability: Operators must demonstrate financial stability and provide guarantees to cover potential payouts to players.
- Tax compliance: Operators must have a clean tax record in Poland.
- Technical infrastructure: Operators must meet specific technical and security standards to ensure fair play and protect player data.
- Responsible gambling: Operators must implement responsible gambling measures, such as self-exclusion programs and responsible gaming tools.
- Age verification: Strict age verification processes are required to ensure that only adults can access online gambling services.
Available Licenses for Online Operators
Currently, only online betting permits are available in Poland.
There are no restrictions on the number of online betting operators, but due to the restrictive nature of the law, as of September 2016, only seven companies held online betting permits.
Licensing Regime for Land-Based Gambling in Poland
Each casino license is valid only for a specific casino, and the same applies to bingo saloon permits. One permit covers a specific number of bet-making points.Certain games, such as poker tournaments, raffle bingo, raffle lottery, promotional lottery, and audiotele lotteries, require single-time permits issued separately for each instance and can be organized locally or nationally.
Different types of licenses or permits are required depending on the specific type of land-based gambling:
A casino license is necessary for operating casino games.
A bingo game saloon permit is required for cash bingo.
A betting operator permit is needed for providing betting services.
The legal requirements for these licenses and permits share similarities, but obtaining a casino license is the most challenging.
Casinos and bingo saloons are subject to numerical limitations. In a single location (village or city) with a population of up to 250,000 inhabitants, only one casino is allowed.
For each additional 250,000 inhabitants, an extra casino permit is granted (e.g., two casinos for up to 500,000 inhabitants, three for up to 750,000 inhabitants, etc.).
However, there can't be more than one casino per total population of 650,000 inhabitants within a single province (województwo).
Casinos can also operate on sea passenger ships and ferries under the Polish flag, but gaming must start at least 30 minutes after departure and end 30 minutes before arrival.
- Bingo Saloon Limits
Similar rules apply to bingo saloons, but the limit is one saloon per 100,000 inhabitants, with a maximum of one saloon per 300,000 inhabitants in one province.
- Public Tender
In cases where multiple entities apply for a license or permit with quantitative restrictions, the Minister of Finance is responsible for organizing a public tender procedure.
- Bet-Making Points
There are no restrictions on the number of allowed bet-making points.
Offshore Gambling in Poland
In Poland, offshore gambling is strictly prohibited.
Only private entities with prior permits can conduct online betting and promotional lotteries.
Engaging in unlicensed gambling within Poland or abroad while in Poland is illegal and treated as a fiscal criminal offense.
Enforcement against unlicensed operators has been in place since July 1, 2017, with the government maintaining a blacklist of websites offering unlicensed gambling.
As of March 30, 2023, Polish internet service providers must block over 29,000 blacklisted URLs, marking a 31% increase from the previous year.
Payment service providers are also obliged to cease services for these blacklisted sites. While criticized for their restrictiveness, these measures aim to support licensed betting operators.
Land-based gambling in Poland
Land-based gambling in Poland is strictly regulated, with specific venues authorized by relevant licenses or permits.
What Games are Allowed
Casinos can offer games like roulette, dice, card games, and slot machine games.
How Many Casinos Can Exist in Poland
The number of casinos is restricted, with one casino allowed per location (village or city) of up to 250,000 inhabitants, increasing by one per 250,000 inhabitants for larger cities but not exceeding one casino per total population of 650,000 inhabitants in a province.
As of March 2023, there were 50 active casino licenses in Poland, with three pending casino license tenders.
Cash bingo is limited to bingo halls, with one allowed per 100,000 inhabitants, at most one per 300,000 in a province.
Betting shops can provide totalisator systems and bookmaking, with no set limit on the number of betting shops. As of March 2023, there were ten active land-based betting permits.
Slot machine gaming in Poland is confined to casinos. Slot machine parlors operated by Totalizator Sportowy. They have restrictions, with one allowed per 1,000 inhabitants in a district, subject to location regulations.
As of April 2022, around 1,000 slot machine parlors were operational, and their number increased. Authorities were actively addressing unlicensed, privately-owned slot machine parlors, with stricter penalties introduced in 2017.
Remote gambling in Poland
A prior permit is required for remote gambling, such as online betting and promotional lotteries. It is difficult to operate these activities from abroad. Operators must establish a presence in Poland or within the European Economic Area (EEA) for compliance. Data related to betting operations must be located within the EEA, with 24/7 remote access provided for tax authorities. Online betting operators are required to adopt responsible gaming policies.
Totalizator Sportowy operates Total Casino, the sole legal online casino in Poland, while private operators are prohibited from offering casino-style games online. Totalizator Sportowy also sells lottery tickets online.
Taxation Policy in Polish Online Casinos and Land-Based Platforms
Are Casino Gambling Winnings taxed?
Yes, there are taxes on gambling winnings in Poland. The tax rate on casino winnings in Poland is currently set at 10%. This means that 10% of the total amount won in a casino must be paid as tax should the awards exceed PLN 2,280. The same logic applies to Poland online casinos and brick-and-mortar establishments.
However, casino games, slot machines, bingo, and poker tournaments have specific taxation rules and rates. Read our guide on taxation to learn the nuances.
It is important to distinguish the two types of taxes:
In addition to the gambling tax which is paid by the operators on behalf of the players, those who win prizes in gambling or betting activities (excluding casino games, slot machines, bingo, and poker tournaments) are subject to a fixed-rate income tax of 10% if the prize value exceeds PLN 2,280, as mentioned above. That tax is borne by the players.
Taxation for businesses
Online gambling operators in Poland are subject to various taxes and fees, including:
- A 12% tax on sports betting turnover.
- A 20% tax on casino and poker revenues.
- A 10% tax on online lottery and bingo revenues.
- Licensing fees, which can vary depending on the type of gambling activity.
Polish Players need to be aware that these taxes can affect the odds and potential winnings in online gambling.
Poland places a strong emphasis on player protection. Online gambling operators are required to implement responsible gambling measures, including:
- Offering self-exclusion programs.
- Providing tools for setting deposit limits.
- Displaying responsible gambling information prominently on their websites.
- Conducting identity verification checks to prevent underage gambling.
Players should take advantage of these tools to ensure a safe and responsible gambling experience.
Blacklist of Unlicensed Operators
As mentioned, Poland maintains a blacklist of unlicensed online gambling operators. Players are strongly advised to only gamble with licensed operators to ensure their legal rights are protected. Accessing unlicensed sites can result in penalties for both players and operators.
Enforcement and Penalties
Poland takes a strict approach to enforcing its gambling laws. Operators found in violation of these laws can face hefty fines, revocation of their licenses, and even criminal charges. Players who engage in illegal gambling activities may also face fines.
Conclusion: Land-Based Regulation and Online Gambling Laws in Poland
Understanding the legal landscape of online gambling in Poland is essential for players who want to enjoy a safe and compliant gambling experience. By adhering to the regulations, supporting responsible gambling initiatives, and choosing licensed operators, players can navigate the complexities of Polish gambling laws while enjoying their favorite games within the boundaries of the law. Always ensure that you are well-informed and make responsible choices when participating in online gambling activities in Poland.