The telecommunication law makes it possible to block access illegal gambling websites from outside Poland for Polish users. However, this regulation has never been applied to providers of illegal online gambling services – writes expert of Employers of Poland Łukasz Czucharski.
– Hundreds of millions – this is the sum lost by the state treasury every year due to the grey market in gambling. Therefore, it would appear that there is a lot to fight for. Meanwhile, illegal bookmakers thrive and it seems that the state does not know how to tackle them – he points out.
The value of the Polish online betting and gambling market – as shown by the recently published report “Combatting the grey market in Poland”, prepared by Global Compact – is as high as ca. 5.3 bln PLN, half of which is generated by bookmaking.
At the same time, operators with a valid permit for providing online bookmaking and gambling services issued by the Ministry of Finance covered only ca. 9 percent of the market. In 2014, the gambling tax brought 1.2 bln PLN of income, 123 mln of which came from bookmaking (from both on-line and conventional operators operating on the basis of a permit issued by the ministry). According to calculations presented in the report, the potential increase in income generated by the aforementioned tax, resulting from hypothetically extending it to bookmaking services provided by unregistered operators, is estimated at a not insignificant 0.3 bln PLN.
Despite the appeals of the representatives of the sector who were harmed by the passivity of the state and many interventions of Employers of Poland, in recent years no steps have been taken to restrict the grey market in online bookmaking.
Although the scope of the grey market in this sector is stupefying, the fact that here and now, relevant state organs have appropriate legal instruments which could effectively restrict the role of illegal entities on the bookmaking market is even more shocking.
The primary tool in question is the possibility of blocking the IP addresses of unregistered bookmakers providing services in Poland. Such solutions are used a.o. by Denmark and Italy, who have successfully restricted the grey market in online bookmaking.
According to experts, Polish law provides a basis – article 180, paragraph 1 of the Telecommunication Law – for the police and the Internal Security Agency (ABW) to demand that access be blocked for users in Poland in cases of a suspected crime or fiscal abuse in online gambling.
– In light of the utter passivity of relevant state organs, Employers of Poland have commissioned a legal opinion on the practical application of the regulation in question. As it transpires, it is used very seldom and has never been applied to illegal online gambling. The opinion was sent to the Minister of Finance, the chairman of the Public Finances Commission in the Sejm, Director of the ABW and the Commander in Chief of the police. Sadly, there is still no initiative in sight and no hope for an improvement in the condition of the sector – emphasizes the expert.
Moreover, one cannot forget that apart from providing illegal gambling services, using these services is also illegal – according to the penal fiscal code it is a fiscal contravention or crime. The overwhelming majority of gamblers are not aware of the fact that they are breaking the law and run the risk of being persecuted.
– Given the scope of abuses, one has to, sadly, conclude that the state is not doing well in combatting the grey market in online bookmaking. As a consequence, gamblers provide budgets of foreign countries with mindblowing sums. The tolerance for illegal gambling services means that bookmakers have no incentive whatsoever to legalize their activities and pay taxes in Poland – concludes Czucharski.