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Poland to re-target unlicensed activity

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Poland’s Ministry of Finance recently signalled its intent to step up the fight against unlicensed gambling over the Internet. Anna Wietrzynska-Ciołkowska and Rafał Burda from DLA Piper’s Warsaw office analyse the context and the various options available to the Ministry.

The last couple of weeks have seen an increasing number of messages emanating from the Ministry of Finance concerning the intensification of its struggle against unlicensed gambling on the Internet.

In mid-November, a statement from the Customs Office was published on the Ministry of Finance’s website, reminding the public that anybody taking part in games of chance or betting organised by foreign operators which do not have a relevant permit will be subject to criminal liability. Also, according to Jacek Kapica, the deputy minister of finance responsible for gambling issues, not only will people taking part in illegal gambling be prosecuted, but relevant websites may also be blocked.

This is not the first time that the idea of blocking the content of websites in Poland has appeared in the context of gambling on the Internet. It was back in 2009 that the idea was raised of creating a special register of websites to which access in Poland would be restricted. However, both then and sometime later when the international AntiCounterfeitingTrade Agreement (ACTA) came into play, the issue of restricting freedom of access to internet content was strongly resisted by the public, as it was
perceived to be an attempt to restrict civil liberties by introducing a type of censorship of the Internet. Besides the civil liberties issues raised, the point was also made that, from a technical point of view, any attempt to block websites would be easy for players to circumvent and, therefore, ineffective in practice. Since then, the government has been much more cautious in its approach to implementing any ideas around blocking the websites of foreign operators, biding its time until public opinion becomes more inclined towards accepting such a solution.

It appears from minister Jacek Kapica’s statement that the government does not intend to create a black list of websites. However, he himself sees the “possibility of using tools that would impede the operation of foreign gambling sites in our country: such as, for example, a graphic curtain/non-removable warning placed in some part of the site which will hamper the use of the portal and make the player aware that by participating in the game on this site he/she is committing a premeditated crime.”

It is also worth noting that it would be difficult to find a legal basis upon which the websites of foreign bookmakers could be blocked. Technically, it is possible to apply the provisions of the law allowing for the blocking of websites containing illegal content. This refers, primarily, to Art. 180 of the Telecommunications Law, which obligates telecommunications operators to immediately block any telecommunications connections or transfers of information, upon the request of eligible entities, if those connections may jeopardise the national defence system, the security of the State, and public safety and order; or to allow those operators to block them. Nevertheless, until the issue of the compliance of the Act on Gambling with EU law is resolved, considering the fact that foreign bookmakers expressly refer to the principle of the freedom to provide services and to the licences obtained in other EU states, and considering that Polish laws are being questioned by the European Commission (which actually triggered the current work on the revision of the Act on Gambling), it is impossible to say with any certainty that we are dealing with evidently illegal content under the provisions of Art. 180 of the Telecommunications Law. Apart from the idea of combating illegal gambling on the Internet by blocking websites, proposals have been put forward to amend current laws in order to encourage foreign entities to obtain the relevant permits in Poland and fully legalize their activities.

The above-mentioned amendment is aimed at allowing foreign bookmakers which register their branches in Poland to obtain a relevant gambling
licence (however, it should be pointed out that the requirements which foreign operators would have to meet are so detailed and complex that they will undoubtedly be challenged as not being proportional to the purpose that they are designed to serve). Both foreign bookmakers and those licensed in Poland have called for a reduction in the so-called gambling tax or a change in the basis of taxation (i.e. moving this from a tax on turnover to a tax on income). Another proposed solution under consideration is to restrict the ability of foreign operators to pay winnings to players in Poland, based on the US model. However, given the current legal uncertainty around whether the provisions of the Polish Act on Gambling are consistent with EU law, it may be difficult to substantiate the application of such mechanisms on the basis that they would not pass the test of proportionality (i.e. that the actions should not exceed what is necessary to achieve
the objective of the Treaties).
Naturally, one can fully understand the reasons behind the measures taken by the Ministry of Finance, which are intended to maximise budget revenues from gambling and effectively enforce the provisions of the Act on Gambling. However, one cannot forget that there are professional private operators licensed in other EU states, and that the Polish Act on Gambling must be consistent with EU law.

 

This report has been provided by iGaming Business.

With an experience of over 8 years in the online gambling industry, as an affiliate, later affiliate manager and consultant, I consider myself a veteran of the industry and can guarantee that you will be served with the most accurate information.

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Polish betting portal launches help center for users

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zagranie Polish betting portal launches help center for usersReading Time: 1 minute

Zagranie, a sports and bookmaking portal based in Poland, launched the first-ever help center in the country called Zapytaj Buka! (Polish for ‘ask the bookmaker’). Now users can ask any questions about their doubts and get quick responses.

Here is how it works.

Every player who has played a little, encountered on his way more or less problems with the bookmaker. Late payment, ambiguity in the coupon calculation or no bonus. These problems will be solved by Zagranie.com experts who constitute a bridge between the user and the bookmaker.

The user asks a question which is forwarded to Zagranie.com experts. They try to solve the player’s problem – until he is satisfied with the answer. If the thread is too complex, then the experts forward the case to the bookmaker, who prioritizes the user’s query as much as possible.

“This type of project was born quite naturally. So far, we have received many inquiries from players on our Facebook or groups, just about the rotating conditions of bonuses, the best offers or coupon settlements. Help Center is the answer to such queries. Everyone can ask a question and other users can go back and save time. The knowledge base is huge. In the Response Help Center, answers “do not get lost in the network” – commented Wiktor Wojtkowski, editor-in-chief of Zagranie.com

 

Source: E-PLAYOnline

Source: Latest News on European Gaming Media Network

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STS to focus on further development in Poland

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STS-Poland STS to focus on further development in PolandReading Time: 2 minutes

STS, the premier bookmaker group in Poland, is focusing on further business development in Poland, in spite of the several proposed challenges. STS has categorically ruled out any plans for listing on the stock exchange.

STS currently holds 49 per cent of Poland’s bookmaker’s market in Poland.

“We want to focus on business development in Poland. After the statutory changes, the market is growing all the time. We realise that we will not reach 70 per cent market share, there is an influx of new companies, competition is increasing and the challenge may be to maintain such a high market share. I would be happy if we had 43–45 per cent in five years.” – CEO Mateusz Juroszek told PAP Business.

The President pointed out, quoting the estimates of the “Graj Legalnie”(Play Legally – ed.) Association, that the turnover value of legal bookmaking activities in 2018 should generate about PLN 5 billion. Thus, STS – according to estimates – should make a turnover at the level of approx. PLN 2.5 billion in 2018. In 2017, the STS turnover reached PLN 1.6 billion.

“Analyzing the Italian market, it can be seen that the average Italian spends on one bet five times more than the Pole. The Polish bookmaking market is much younger, Polish society is getting rich, and it has more and more money for betting. Currently, the average amount per bet is PLN 25, and recently it was PLN 19. This should allow us to grow and increase revenues – said president Juroszek – as STS we want to grow faster than the industry in Poland, above all at the expense of illegal competition, which has about 40 per cent of the market” – he added.

The President of STS informed in April that the company has no plans to enter the Warsaw Stock Exchange, which had been mentioned earlier. He also pointed out that the company could make its debut on the London or Stockholm stock exchanges in the future.

 “A few years ago, we said that we would like to go public. Then the company, the stock exchange and the market were in a different situation. We do not need capital, we do not intend to sell the company. Therefore, the stock market debut today is not an interesting topic for us and we do not have any discussions in this matter” – said Mateusz Juroszek.

Source: E-PLAYOnline

Source: Latest News on European Gaming Media Network

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Polish court exempts illegal gamblers from VAT

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polish-illegal-gamblers-VAT Polish court exempts illegal gamblers from VATReading Time: 1 minute

In a curious ruling, the Provincial Administrative Court in Warsaw, Poland has issued a judgement that persons who had arranged slot games without obtaining any license are not liable to pay 23 per cent tax on goods and services. Basically, the court rules that gambling illegal in the country, so VAT cannot be levied if any person involved in illegal gambling activity.

The judge Artur Kuś made this ruling in accordance with art 43 par. 1 point 15 of the VAT Act, which says that exempt from tax is activity in the field of games of chance, mutual bets and games on machines, subject to tax on games.

When customs officers caught a man conducting slot games, he was obliged to pay the overdue VAT. The Office explained that the exemption from art. 43 par. 1 point 15 of the VAT Act applies only to those who have tried to obtain a license, and not those who organise games illegally. The entrepreneur argued that he was entitled to a dismissal. He relied on the case law of the EU Court of Justice, including judgments Acts C-453/02 and C-462/02. The CJEU ruled that the activity carried out without a permit should be treated on the basis of VAT as well as legal, because of the similarity. Otherwise, there would be a breach of competition rules.

The man won in the Administrative Court. Judge Artur Kuś explained that VAT cannot be treated as a sanction to penalise undesirable behaviour, because there are administrative fines and penal-fiscal sanctions.

He stressed that the principle of fiscal neutrality does not allow the same gambling game to be treated differently depending on whether it is organised in a legal or illegal manner. The verdict of the Administrative Court is not final.

Source: E-PLAYOnline Gambling

Source: Latest News on European Gaming Media Network

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