This year Poland effected amendments to its Gambling Act, introducing a number of regulations with regard to gambling services as well as new market regulation mechanisms. Among the important changes, the amendments introduced a state monopoly on operations of slot machines outside casinos, and also a mechanism for blocking online domains offering access to gambling operated by entities without the required state authorizations.
In practice, the new online gambling regulations force banks operating in the Polish market to block gambling transactions offered by entities without a Polish license. Both bank transfers and card payments involving unlicensed entities are considered to be participation in illegal gambling and banks are obliged to prevent their customers in engaging in such activity. As of July there exists a Polish “Register of Domains Used to Offer Gambling Services in Violation of the Act” (Register), maintained by the Minister of Finance. Internet service providers must block entities whose address is entered in the Register. Further, players proven guilty of engaging in gambling on illegal websites are subject to fines and must forfeit the entirety of their winnings to the State Treasury.
At present, only few entities have been authorized by the Polish Ministry of Finance to offer betting services to customers, and all of them are registered in Poland. Interestingly, each of them has held the required authorization for years, and the most popular websites offering similar betting services, operated by foreign entities, initiated authorization procedures only in the first quarter of 2017.
The new regulations introduce, for the first time in Poland, a closed catalogue of websites; previously, blockades were imposed only on individual sites explicitly violating criminal law or at “variance with the principles of community life.” Ally Law member firm Żyglicka & Partners notes that the amendments to the Gambling Act may raise some issues. In a judgement from last year, the Court of Justice of the European Union stated that a Member State may not block websites that offer gambling services operated by entities authorized to do so by another Member State in a manner that is discriminatory to those entities. This judgement may significantly influence the issue of further regulation of the gambling market in Poland and the European Union.
Ally Law member firms have deep experience in gambling, gaming, and internet law. If you have questions about the legality of your gambling or games undertakings, check with your Ally Law member firm for advice on the legality of your transactions in every country in which you do business. For more information about our services in this area, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.