Despite the Government’s efforts to wipe out illegal gambling from the country, it seems that the illegal gambling sector in Poland is still operational. This has been unveiled by a new study carried out by the Polish Supreme Audit Office (Najwyższa Izba Kontroli – NIK).
The year 2017 saw Poland’s Gambling Act revised, in order for the Government to guarantee that gambling companies which have been illegally operating in the country would be eradicated as part of the stricter measures aimed at better regulation of the sector. However, in spite of the efforts which the Government made in that direction, the illegal gambling market remains strong, although it is not growing at the same pace it used to grow with before the changes.
Reportedly, the online gambling activity in the country grew from $1.27 billion to $2.02 billion between 2015 and 2018, with the figure combining both licensed and unlicensed gambling services in Poland. Still, the regulated gambling sector has been growing recently, with the number of bets which licensed operators took in 2018 had risen by 600% to $989.8 million. On the other hand, unlicensed online gambling companies which used to account for 51% of the sector over the 2015-2018 period, had registered a 42% increase in the number of wagers received.
Polish Government Faces Some Challenges to Tackle Illegal Gambling Activities
As the NIK explained in a report which it has recently published on its website, the fight against illegal gambling has not been brought to an end. Still, the Polish Supreme Audit Office has revealed that the effectiveness of supervision over the local gambling market, which is carried out by the authorities of the National Treasury Administration and the Minister of Finance, has increased.
Following the amendment brought to Poland’s Gambling Act of 2016, some changes were implemented in the country’s gambling sector regulation. The Government imposed a 12% turnover tax for online gambling companies, which is the same tax rate paid by land-based gambling operators. This move was undoubtedly helpful for the country, as it ended up bringing larger gambling tax revenue to the country. In 2017, the tax revenue which gambling accounted for was $418.42 million, while in 2018, Poland’s gambling tax revenue was $484.75 million. The amount, however, is not exactly what the Government expected.
According to the recently-published NIK report, one of the reasons why there have been some difficulties for the country’s authorities to take advantage of the new moves made in its gambling sector was the Government’s decision to keep the monopoly of the government-owned Totalizator Sportowy. It is normal for operators to find it hard to compete in the conditions of a monopoly, which eventually leads to smaller financial success.
The Polish gambling sector has also seen the exodus of a number of large operators, including bet365, William Hill and Unibet after the Government announced the implementation of the legislation changes. On the other hand, the smaller-than-expected return in the country’s gambling revenue could be due to several factors. State-owned Totalizator Sportowy did not introduce its new casino and online services as fast as initially planned, and the Ministry of Finance is set to be given more power to deal with illegal gambling companies.