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Against All Odds – The rise of Poland’s gambling industry despite restrictions

Covering a span of 312,696 square miles, Poland is fast becoming a technological hotspot within Central Europe. It’s also emerging as a major player in Europe’s gambling industry – a surprising fact considering that the country has some of the tightest gambling restrictions in the region. 

A growing market

In 2020, the Polish gambling market was valued at a pretty massive five billion Euros; an extremely impressive number, particularly when compared with 600 million Euros in Russia and 350 million Euros in Croatia. This will no doubt come as a surprise to a lot of people due to the fact that Poland has some of the toughest gambling laws in the world and, in this article, we’ll take a look at the ins and outs of betting in this Central European cty: 

The lay of the land

Gambling in Poland has, until very recently, been largely centered on land based institutions, namely casinos. In 2021, there were three casino style facilities in Warsaw comprising 52 gaming tables, slot machines and video poker games. 

Gambling restrictions in Poland were tightened after the ‘Gambling Affair’ scandal of 2009 whereby a number of prominent politicians were found to have been cooperating with gambling businesses and had even attempted to change the laws on gambling in their own favor. The Polish Government responded to this by putting new legislation in place to regulate the gambling industry and The Gambling Act of 2017 is broken down by: 

  • Games of chance
  • Betting
  • Card games
  • Slot machine games

Each of these four types of gambling are subject to separate rules and licensing laws in order to differentiate between gaming and gambling. 

Going online

As with most countries, online gambling is popular in Poland. The one difference is that the Polish online gambling market is controlled almost entirely by the State. Although 14 new sites have been approved since The Gambling Act in 2017, others – including Bet365, William Hill and Unibet have been forced to close down their operations due to new legislation. 

While some forms of gambling on and offline are permitted in Poland, offshore gambling is strictly prohibited and, gamblers playing on sites located abroad while he or she is in Poland will find themselves faced with prosecution for fiscal criminal offenses. This is largely down to the fact that the country does not have a separate regulatory body for gambling and betting and, instead, this arena is managed by the minister in charge of public finance. 

Conclusion

Despite the gambling restrictions, which many may feel are somewhat outdated, Poland is fast gaining a reputation as a vibrant hub of Europe with dynamic talent in the technological sphere and a culture of inclusivity. For this reason, the expectation is that there will be a relaxation of gambling laws in Poland sooner rather than later, leading to an even bigger surge of dynamic new startups and businesses.