Online gambling is a trend that is growing in popularity all over the world. More countries are relaxing laws related to online gambling or legalizing it in one form or another all the time. While each individual country is working its way towards fully legalized gambling at its own rate, most countries around the world are on the path towards that. Poland is no different in this regard. Over the course of the last decade, Poland has legalized certain gambling options for its citizens and has created a growing industry as a result. Here is everything you need to know about online gambling in Poland.
The History of Gambling on Poland
Like many Eastern European countries, the history of gambling in Poland needs to be looked at through the lens of what happened after the fall of the Soviet Union. In the early 1990s, as Poland transitioned from a socialist-style economy to a free-market one, the gambling industry nearly disappeared and was not regulated by the government.
Poland, however, was one of the first countries to pull itself out of the post-communist malaise and by the mid-90s once again had a solid economy. In 1992, the new government passed the first set of laws governing the gambling industry and those would stay in place until Poland passed more restrictive gambling laws in 2010. In 2011, an amendment to the Act of 2010 would put in place regulations related to online gambling.
Legality of Online Gambling in Poland
The online gambling laws put forth in 2011 were fairly restrictive to this industry. What these laws said is that Polish gamblers could not gamble on any site that was not approved and licensed by the Polish government.
Most of these legal gambling sites are for sports and other fixed odds betting. By the end of 2019, Poland had licensed 17 different sports betting outfits. The online casino gaming industry is dominated by the state-owned Totalizator Sportowy, although there are also a few online casinos based in Russia, Ukraine, and Curacao that are allowed in the country.
Illegal Betting Gambling in Poland
Over the course of the last few years, the Polish sports betting industry has made tremendous gains. Since 2017 the industry has grown each year. However, each year has seen diminishing growth starting at 100% in 2017, then dropping to around 50% in 2018, and less than 30% in 2019. Some industry experts blame a 12% government tax but most believe that it is foreign online casinos that provide a better experience that takes business away.
While official figures for illegal gambling in Poland do not exist, experts peg the market share of foreign online casinos at around 60% of the overall market. And, while Poland has blacklisted over 8,000 sites in the country, there are almost double that number of online casinos that accept Polish players.
“Polish players are looking for a better online casino experience than is currently being offered,” says Lucian Marinescu of Online Casino Gems. “The government can try to block international sites but they will just keep popping up and redirecting. There is only so much they can do.”
Top Gambling Sites in Poland
As for the legal betting sites in Poland, there are a few that dominate the landscape. One offers casino-type games like lotto, slots, and keno. The others are all sports and fixed odds betting. These offer betting on a wide range of global sports as well as other popular events like politics and entertainment. One of the most popular sports bet on in Poland is the Polish Football Federation which encompasses the Polish professional football leagues and the Men’s and Women’s National Teams. Here are the top sites in the country.
- Totolotek – This is the biggest casino-style gambling site in Poland. A government-owned company runs it called Totalizator Sportowy. The company is a throwback to the socialist days and has been continuously operating for 68 years. The site is mostly lotto games and does not offer traditional casino table games.
- Fortuna Entertainment Group – In 2012, Fortuna Entertainment became the first licensed operator to offer Polish bettors the chance to place bets online. This group operates more than 500 betting shops in the country and currently has around a 30% market share in the Polish online betting industry.
- STS – The largest betting establishment in the country, STS has been in the gambling business since 1997. They currently hold a little more than 40% of the online gambling market share in Poland. They offer both an iOS and Android app and offer gambling in over 30 categories including a variety of traditional sports, esports, politics, entertainment, and more.
- forBET – A relative newcomer compared to the top 2 companies in Polish online sports gambling, forBET jumped into 3rd place in the online sports betting market in 2019. They now hold a 6% market share. They offer much of the same range of sports that their competitors offer but forBEt puts more emphasis on the top sports that are bet in Poland such as European football, world tennis, the KHL Russian professional hockey league, and skiing events.
Like most of the world, online gambling has brought both opportunities and challenges to Poland. While the country has done a good job of offering the bettors in the country plentiful opportunities to bet on sports, their online casino gaming has done well. Because of this, illegal online gambling in the country is currently a major problem that is eroding the growth of Poland’s legal industry.
As we move into the 2020s, Poland will have to decide what is more important for its gambling industry. They can keep the current system in place where they have a high degree of control, can tax the industry at a very high rate, and can own the biggest player in the space. Or, they can work to service more than 40% of the country’s gamblers but give up control and possibly some of the profits. Whatever they decide, what is true is that online gambling in Poland is here to stay and will continue to grow, one way or the other.