As things stand, online betting is legal in Poland but there are considerable restrictions and regulations placed upon it.
Polish authorities try to keep it so that online Polish licensed operators are available to their citizens, and there are many rules and items of legislation in place to try to ensure that. The below guide will provide you with the key facts, as well as some suggestions of where to open an account and play.
Betting Sites For Polish Residents
Note: we are unable to recommend any betting sites for the Polish market at present. Online betting companies do operate for locals but access outside of Poland is restricted and therefore we are unable to test and review these sites. A list of local operators is available here (in Polish).
Key Facts: Online Gambling In Poland
- Both land based and online gambling / betting are legal.
- Over 1,000 betting shops throughout the country.
- Online sports betting legal but limited by law to certain operators.
- Polish authorities strict on people using unregulated betting sites.
- Crackdown on foreign based operators and 12% turnover tax proviso of Polish licenses puts off many international betting companies and bookmakers.
- Legal age to gamble is 18+.
Gambling Law & Legislation Timeline
Our key points outlined above should give you a good general idea of the legal situation regarding gambling in Poland. The following timeline of the country’s main gambling legislation, however, is perfect for anyone looking for a more in-depth understanding:
1992 – First Real Legislation
For many decades gambling in Poland went largely unregulated and was allowed to develop of its own accord. The first real legislation was only passed in 1992 and this simply tightened up the rules regarding the location of new casinos, by limiting them to population centres of over 250,000 people.
2009 – Polish Act on Gaming
A real sea change when it came to the Polish authorities’ attitude toward gambling regulation came in 2009. A scandal involving Polish Sports Minister Miroslaw Drzewiecki unearthed a corrupt pro-gambling lobby within Polish politics and a program of strict regulation came about as a result.
The 2009 Polish Act on Gaming further limited the allowed size, location and scope of land-based casinos and restricted all land-based gaming in the country to those locations. What’s more, the act also imposed a blanket ban on all online gambling in Poland.
2011 – Amendments to the Polish Act on Gaming
In 2011, amendments to the Polish Act on Gaming allowed for legal online sports betting in the country but with severe limitations. These were that for any provider to be licensed to offer legal online betting they had to be owned by Polish individuals, registered in Poland and have a physical presence within the country.
2014 – Further Amendment
The EU did not believe Poland’s 2011 amendments to be in line with their policy of guaranteeing the free flow of goods and services between member states. As such, pressure from that body caused the Polish authorities to pass a further amendment to the Polish Act on Gaming in 2014. This was that companies from other EU member states could operate legal online betting sites for Polish customers, as long as the prospective operator had a physical branch in Poland and a Polish speaking representative in the country.
2014 – Official Announcement
An official announcement placed on the Polish government’s website in November 2014 warned online gamblers that they could face legal action in the form of a fine or criminal indictment if they used foreign online platforms. Authorities also indicated that they were at that time pursuing more than 1,000 criminal investigations into such activities.
2016 – New Amendment to the Gambling Act
After a couple of quiet years, the Polish legislature introduced further sweeping amendments to the Polish Gambling Act in December 2016. Those amendments allowed for the provision of legal online casino gambling, poker and bingo, as long as they were offered by the state-owned Totalizator Sportowy lottery monopoly.
What the new amendments also introduced, however, were new domain and payment blocking measures aimed at preventing foreign based providers serving Polish punters without a local Polish license. Viewed as controversial by many members of the gambling industry due to the 12% turnover tax levied on licensed companies, the amendments were referred to the European Commission.
2017 – Amendments Come into Force & Providers Withdraw
After their referral to the European Commission, a mandatory standstill period was imposed upon the new amendments to the Gambling Act. That period came to an end on March 31st 2017, however, and the amendments came into force the following day.
In response to those more restrictive amendments, a whole host of international gambling providers have withdrawn from the Polish market. Those providers include gambling giants Bet365, Betfair and William Hill, although William Hill have not ruled out a potential return in spite of the aforementioned 12% tax.
Do Players Get Taxed On Winnings?
Poland’s rapid change from a liberal attitude to gambling to a very strict and restrictive one was in many ways bad news for punters. What’s more, there is little for those punters to be happy about when it comes to the country’s gambling taxation policy. This is the case as, whilst many countries tax online gambling providers, Poland tax both them and the punters themselves.
All turnover of licensed companies within the gambling industry is taxed at a rate of 12% and then punters’ own winnings are also taxed at 10%, with that charge being taken off by the betting shops and the licensed Polish operators.
There is of course no mechanism for Polish authorities to chase tax on winnings earned through overseas based providers but this is because the process of earning such winnings is itself illegal. The most recent amendments to the Polish Gambling Act, however, have served to chase most of those overseas providers away from the Polish market anyway.
Online Deposit Options & Methods
For Polish punters depositing and betting with the country’s few fully licensed and regulated online betting sites, a full range of deposit methods are generally available to them (including Visa & Mastercard). Many Polish citizens, however, do choose to bet with overseas based providers who tend to provide better services in spite of this being illegal.
In order to try to combat this, Polish authorities routinely have card payments to such sites blocked and can launch criminal investigations against punters. As such, those punters who do use foreign sites tend to deposit through e-wallet services like Skrill so that it is more difficult for the ultimate destination of their money to be determined.