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Polish Gamblers Face Criminal Charges for Online Exploits

- November 27, 2014 By Nemanja L. -

Online gamblers in Poland face criminal charges

Polish government to prosecute gamblers playing at unlicensed websites.

Polish government has warned its gamblers that playing at online websites not licensed by the country could see them face serious charges and even earn them jail time.

Namely, Polish Ministry of Finance has made it clear that betting with unlicensed gaming operators could see the country residents face criminal charges.

This is the first time the EU member state has decided to take serious actions against online gamblers having previously launched a crackdown on persons marketing or promoting said websites.

The statement released by the Ministry of Finance states that over 24,000 players visiting these unlicensed operators have been identified, with 17,700 of them winning a total of PLN 27m ($8m) between them.

It is also claimed that 1,100 investigations are underway in the Eastern European country, where players who have earned the most money and those not ready to end their illegal exploits predominantly targeted.

Online sports betting has been legal in Poland since 2011, but the regulations state that a company needs to be operating out of Poland, with tax rates going up to 12% of total turnover.

Mere Four Sports Betting Licenses Issued in Poland

Strict legal framework is the main reason why there have been only four operators applying for gaming licenses, with Fortuna Entertainment, Milenium, STS and Totolotek accounting for mere 9 per cent of the country’s online gambling market, estimated at PLN 4.9 billion ($1.5 billion) per year by the Roland Berger consulting firm.

Amendments to the Gambling Act, drafted earlier this year, are meant to allow operators based out of the European Union to offer their services to country residents, albeit only if they establish a branch office for tax purposes in Poland and open a bank account in the country.

While international gaming operators can apply for a sports betting license in Poland, the government still holds monopoly over other games such as lotteries and bingo, and there have been no signs to suggest the country will soon improve their gambling options.

This means that online casinos and online poker websites are still banned in the EU member state, which continues to miss out on serious tax revenue that could boost the country’s struggling economy.

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