Laws and Regulators
The main legal act regulating the gambling sector in Poland is the Act of 19 November 2009 on Gambling Games (the Gambling Act). The Gambling Act imposes rules on gambling and sets requirements for gambling operators, with penalties for their violation. It applies to both land-based and online gambling. The Gambling Act regulates gambling products per se (casino games, lotteries, bingo) and betting. In late 2016 , the Gambling Act was amended to better shape the regulated gambling sector and push out illegal operators. The key changes introduced include website and payment blocking in relation to unlicensed online gambling, a ban on casino-style games online, changes in relation to slot machines, new rules regarding poker, lifting a ban on advertising betting, and keeping records of all prizes/winnings of at least PLN 2,280.
The Department for Supervising Controls within the Ministry of Finance supervises gambling activities in Poland. The Department is responsible for keeping a register of banned domains, combating the offering of gambling games incompatible with the Gambling Act, granting permits, and approving the location of gaming arcades.
Land Based Casinos
A casino license is rather hard to obtain. Casinos are limited in number. Under the Gambling Act, only one casino can operate in a single location (city or village) up to 250,000 inhabitants. For each next 250,000 inhabitants, the maximum number of permitted casinos is increased by one, but there cannot be more than one casino per total population of 650,000 inhabitants in a single province. In case more than one gambling operator applies for a license with quantitative restrictions, the Minister of Finance organizes a public tender procedure.
Casinos can also be run aboard sea passenger ships and passenger ferries under the Polish flag. These casino games cannot be provided earlier than 30 minutes after leaving the departure port and later than 30 minutes before the arrival at the destination port.
All visitors to casinos must register before entry. Their personal data are stored for three years and can be accessed by the authorities. In casinos, a video record of each game is kept and stored for three years.
Providing online casino games is permitted by the Gambling Act, but subject to monopoly by the state-owned Totalizator Sportowy. Card games, such as poker, remain available only in land-based form. Private operators are only allowed to provide betting and promotional lotteries online. Currently, there are 17 licensed betting operators throughout the country.
Poland’s state-run gambling operator Totalizator Sportowy celebrated its first full year of online casino and lottery activity in 2019. Totalizator Sportowy launched its Playtech-powered Total Casino site in December 2018. Polish customers opened over 320,000 accounts during 2019 (https://www.totalcasino.pl/). The company is going to add a live casino option in 2020. Total Casino is also available via a mobile app, which generates around 70% of the digital offering traffic.
The Gambling Act introduces a publicly accessible register of unlicensed websites which are available for gambling in Poland but their operators are unlicensed in the country. The register targets all websites that are available in the Polish language or advertised in Poland. Access to blacklisted websites is blocked by the Ministry of Finance, and users are rerouted to a governmental site providing information on sanctions for taking part in illegal gambling. Participation in illegal gambling is subject to a fine. Poland’s blacklist of unauthorized online gambling domains hit 8,308 as of December 12, 2019.