Poland to Revamp Gambling Laws; No Confirmation on Tax Breaks

Poland has plans to change its gambling laws in order to include online slots and poker. However, there is no indication about the tax structure applicable to the industry. More specifically, there is no confirmation whether Poland-licensed gambling operators will get the tax breaks they are looking for with changes in Poland gambling law.

The online gambling industry is changing at an extremely fast pace, and people are increasingly choosing to play at online casinos instead of brick and mortar casinos. After all, it is a lot more convenient to play games like Double Bubble slot using one’s laptop or PC, or increasingly, one’s hand held device.

There was great excitement in the industry recently when Poland’s Ministry of Finance provided hints about the long awaited revisions to the Poland gambling laws. Operators with local licenses will be permitted to offer online games such as slots and poker, with the understanding that they will follow regulations put in place for protecting customers. The government also intends to authorise slots in land based casinos, subject to a number of stringent restrictions. The prevailing opinion in the government is that slots are best kept under a great deal of control on account of their supposed addictiveness.

Most interestingly, the Ministry of Finance’s latest statements on online gambling are in sharp contrast to the statement made by Deputy Prime Minister Jaroslaw Gowin just the previous week. The minister had made a differentiation between casino games including slots and other verticals such as poker and sports betting, saying that the former came under the category of hard gambling and were therefore, potentially harmful to society.

While Minister Gowin will undoubtedly be unhappy about the proposal to permit online slots, he will support the proposal to reduce restrictions on online and land-based poker. As of now, poker is offered only by land based casinos in the country, but there is immense demand for it on the internet. At present, people from Poland visit online casinos to get their fill of all sorts of gambling games.

The Ministry of Finance has stated that it will take action against online operators licensed in other jurisdictions that serve this market even though they are not permitted to do so. There are many operators serving this market and many of them are fraudulent. People playing on these sites can lose their money and personal information to criminal gangs. The government intends to block access to many of these sites and also to prevent payments to them. Any operator that continues to break the law will also have to face serious consequences.

No Update on Taxes

The Ministry’s statement unfortunately did not specify whether there would be any changes to taxes affecting the gambling industry. Operators currently have to bear a 12% tax on turnover. There are hints, however, that this will be changed to 20%.

The new gambling rules are intended to be applicable from January 1, 2017. At present, the proposed revisions have been submitted to the relevant government branches in order to obtain their opinion.

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