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Impact on the lottery sector


of Polish legal sports betting operators, and have been advocating for needed changes over the past years.”


Adam Lamentowicz, CEO, Totolotek


How will the new amendments affect the sports betting sector? “Totolotek and Intralot, as its dominating shareholder, are looking with optimism towards the future and welcome the new Gaming Act with hope and satisfaction. Since 2009 when the current valid Gaming Act was introduced the Polish market was flooded with illegal (offshore) dot com operators which have dominated the market. It is currently estimated that over 90 per cent of the GGR goes abroad in an uncontrolled manner.


At the same time legal operators have been nearly pushed out of the market by very high levies and game tax, the highest in Europe, which have forbidden legal operators to effectively compete with ‘off licence’ competitors, servicing the Polish market via websites hosted in tax havens.


Te new Gaming Act introduces very strict IP and payment blocking measures clearly imposing responsibility for blocking non- licensed operators in Poland to be executed by telecom providers and financial institutions, including payment gateways. Non- performance of those obligations will be triggering criminal and pecuniary penalties in great values. Tis means that black market won’t be of course totally eliminated in Poland but we trust that the market will normalise and a legal market will grow.


Te gaming tax has remained very high which may limit interest in legalising itself by many pure dot com operators, but we trust that it’s a matter of time that GGR taxation is introduced in Poland based on the best practices from other jurisdictions. If that happens it will allow a healthy and competitive market to emerge in Poland, after many years of waiting and tremendous effort from local legal betting operators, who are united in their association


Which brings us to the most recent changes which were announced last summer when a new Gambling Act was presented which will basically reduce the unlicensed market, provide higher consumer protection against the risks of excessive gambling and increase tax revenues.


It is said the treasury loses an estimated PLN6bn each year in potential tax revenue due to illegal gambling activities with about 90 per cent of the online market made up of entities operating in Poland that do not pay taxes.


Te goal of the amended bill is to keep away any international operators who still operate in the


What are your thoughts on the introduction of online slots and casino games to be run by the state monopoly? “Monopoly is not the best market setting in any industry, including gaming. It is rare for national giants to create the needed expertise to run competitive online casinos or retail slots or VLT venues across the country. I believe multiple licensees should be selected which could execute the desired strategy of the Polish state in a strictly controlled manner and with help of modern systems.


Tis would be a better strategy to create a competitive, oligopolistic market with strict rules, rather than impose a monopoly which I fear won’t have the needed tools to effectively compete with the black market of slot venues which run approximately 60,000 illegal machines across Poland as we speak. I trust the Polish state will rethink its strategy within a year or two and a more competitive market will eventually be created in Poland in the VLT market as well.”


What changes would you like to see for the Polish online gambling and betting market? “Totolotek is focused on the sport book market and hence we would like to see a Gaming Act to lower the taxation to a more manageable level. Te 12 per cent tax on turnover is roughly equal to 60 per cent on GGR. Tis makes the sport book business very fragile and challenging to manage on the risk management and cost side. Tax on GGR would allow the business to be more predictable and hence allow its shareholders to invest more in company growth and technological and product development.


Another major need is for the Gaming Act and its normative acts to be more precise in defining what are the legal means of marketing, and which are not. It is common for Polish gaming acts (including the new Gaming Act of April 1 2017) to be very vague and prone to interpretation, which again does not allow for a stable business or level fields to be created for all existing or new coming legal operators. After all, what we need is a predictable business environment and regulator which wants to cooperate with licensed operators.”


Polish market by enforcing a set of new restrictions including domain and payment blocks from unlicensed sites will which take effect in July this year. Tose who already hold a Polish licence will still be allowed to advertise but cannot promote any banking services on their domains.


In late 2016 Poland’s legislators approved various amendments to the Polish Gambling Act and it was signed by President Andrzej Duda in early January and sent to the European Commission. Te changes came into effect by April 1st.


NEWSWIRE / INTERACTIVE / 247.COM P73


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