Poland’s gambling laws are much stricter than those of most other european countries. This is because the government wanted to show that it would not be influenced by the gambling industry. Before this law was enacted, gambling was regulated by the act on games and betting. However, gaming lobbyists attempted to get this law changed in their favor. The new law is much more restrictive, in part because the government wanted to make a statement that it would not be influenced by special interests.
These are the legal gambling options available to polish players, as dictated by law: casino games like poker, bingo, roulette and slots; bets; and lotteries. Some of the options come with specific restrictions though. For instance, you can only take part in poker tournaments if there are at least ten other active players. Gambling activities conducted online or offline are two separate categories. In general, online gambling covers bets and lotteries — both of which fall under government monopoly.
The gambling laws in poland have changed significantly in the past few years. In 2016, amendments were made to the act which legalized online casino and poker games in addition to sports betting. However, these new regulations have been met with criticism from sports betting, casino and poker operators. Online sports betting remains legal in poland but operators are now required to pay a 12% tax on betting turnover. This has caused a number of the largest betting sites to leave the market.
The legalization of online casino games was a development that was welcomed — until the polish government decided to grant a monopoly over online casino games to the state-owned totalizator sportowy. For a while, it seemed as if online poker was the only form of gaming that would get a break under the new gaming laws. The 2016 amendments did not specifically name «poker» as subject to a state monopoly. However, it was later revealed that poker would be classified under the greater «casino» umbrella and also be restricted to the state-owned monopoly provider. A report published in 2019 by the polish supreme audit office (nik) found that the state has yielded mixed results in channeling players away from illegal gambling sites and onto state-authorized sites. Government approved gambling sites and sportsbooks have made progress, but offshore operators still control more than half of the market today.