Gambling on the Rise

Online Risk

Online Risk

Over 90% of the Polish gambling market is controlled by illegal companies. The number of foreign operators offering illicit online gambling has doubled from 86 in 2012 to 156 in 2014. Customs Service officers, responsible for the supervision of the gambling industry, cannot clamp down on outlawed businesses, so they chase individual players, according to a report by the Supreme Audit Office (NIK). Due to restrictions imposed by the Polish government in the wake of the recent gambling scandal, it is forbidden to organise games of chance or participate in such games through the internet. New regulations only allow for activities carried out within the scope of online betting under a license issued by the Ministry of Finance. However, only four companies have been granted such a permit so far. Tax haven companies ignore such limitations and provide a full range of services to Polish players. Unauthorised operators do not only offer online betting and games of chance like roulette and black jack, but they also advertise their activities, in defiance of Polish law. “Illegal online bookmakers have captured 91% of the market and their estimated annual turnover reaches PLN 5 billion. They do not pay taxes and the Polish treasury loses up to PLN 300 million in potential tax revenue each year,” says Paweł Rabantek, a representative of the Polish Association of Bookmakers (SPiPFB). Players participating in illegal gambling can be fined (up to PLN 16,000) and imprisonment up to 3 years. Customs officers are currently running 1,100 cases targeting individual players, and the number of Poles using illegal services is constantly growing. According to data revealed in the course of an investigation carried out in 2014, 24,000 players earned a total of PLN 27 million. Wiesława Dróżdż, spokesperson of the Ministry of Finance, affirmed that careful consideration will be given to the issue of gambling. She noted, however, that Poles react badly to all attempts at restricting internet freedom, as the case of ACTA recently proved.

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