William Hill, Betfair and Mr Green Leave the Polish Market while Bwin Stays

The Polish flag

Poland has adopted new gambling legislation

The betting and gambling hotshots have decided to abandon the market thanks to unfavourable new gambling legislation.

The legislation effective 1st of April, 2017 calls for a 12% tax on sports betting turnover, which operators deem too high. A previous wave of departures has hit the market, including Bet365 and EnergyBet. Currently, many gambling and betting operators reside in jurisdictions that are more forthcoming towards the business – for instance, Gibraltar with a 1% turnover tax, or Malta with 0.5%.

Further stipulations of the legislation include measures that might inadvertently favour local operators and thus reflect negatively on international companies. Despite the fact that the greater effect of the law is a liberalisation of the Polish gaming market to also include licensed casino, bingo and poker operators, the new legislation limits licensed international operators to the provision of sports betting services – with the aforementioned 12% revenue tax. Unlicensed operators will face penalties in the form of IP and payment blocking, effective July 1st.

Current members of the departing gambling sites have been asked to withdraw any remaining funds from their accounts, and affiliates must remove all marketing references in a speedy manner.

In an exchange with EGR, Michal Kopec, a senior business manager at an affiliate marketer company Better Collective, expressed his enthusiasm for local gambling operators to use the opportunity of market share in their benefit.

The absence of bet365 alone means the grey market will drop from around 80-90% of activity to around 50%, and local operators will now fight hard pick up that slack. Michal Kopec, Better Collective

Operators are, understandably less rosy about this issue, with one anonymous source bemoaning the complex licensing process and the fear that, “if (we) apply now, it legitimises the 12% turnover tax which we don’t want to do, but if we wait until it changes we face a year on the sidelines,”.

Bwin Decides to Stay

At the same time, the Gibraltar-based Bwin has remained committed to the market despite the threatening legislature. The operator has to suspend its activities for the time being, but a close cooperation with the Polish government and moves to obtain a licence sets the current tone of positive expectations. Considering the lengthy application process, it’s unclear whether Bwin’s move will motivate other operators to follow suit. At the same time, Polish operators face an increased pressure to fill up the market.

The new law was already somewhat scrutinised by EU authorities, who previously openly disagreed with the decision to only allow sports betting international operators on Polish virtual soil. However, there has been a lack of concrete follow-up from the EU side, so the Polish-friendly law has been unchallenged until now.

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