Soon to come: penalties for online gambling

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As of April this year, apart from organising illegal gambling, it will also be against the law to take part in online gambling on unlicensed websites. On the grounds of the Fiscal Penal Code, participating in such games shall be considered a tax offense or a criminal tax offense’, writes Łukasz Czuchnarski, an expert for Employers of Poland.

Based on the new Gambling Act, which will come into force as of April 1, 2017,  the legislator shall introduce mechanisms allowing to effectively combat grey economy in the online betting field. The draft amendment to the Gambling Act is undoubtedly important to the online betting industry, which is dominated by the grey economy. Bookmakers operating on Polish territory without the necessary permits from the Ministry of Finance make up 90% of the industry. These companies operate illegally and do not pay taxes in Poland. In an effort to clamp down on the grey zone, under the new laws, websites of unlicensed operators may be blocked. The effects of similar measures taken in other countries prove that this is an effective weapon in the war against illegal gambling’, Czucharski notes.

The vast majority of players are unaware that they are breaking the law and exposing themselves to legal liability.

In this context, it is worth mentioning that, according to the project, the minister responsible for public finance will keep a register of domains offering illegal online betting. Upon visiting an illegal site, users will be redirected to a special website created by the Ministry of Finance containing a statement on the legality of the website in question’, writes Czucharski.

This is especially important, because not only is operating unlicensed sites illegal, it is also against the law to take part in online gambling on these sites. According to the Fiscal Penal code, participation in illegal online gambling is a fiscal offense. Despite this fact, the vast majority of players are unaware that they are breaking the law and exposing themselves to legal liability.

The liberlisation of laws on advertising the services offered by bookmaking operators is a good solution. In the past, under the statuatory prohibition on advertising and promoting gambling, legal entities were pushed out of the market as new players would only receive information about the offers of unregistered bookmakers, who in turn began to dominate the field. On the other hand, the project lacked in changes in the taxation of online betting and gambling. Taxing GGR (Gross Gaming Revenue), calculated as the difference between the total amounts wagered minus the funds or ‘winnings’ returned to the players, is considered the most optimal way of regulating the bookmaking market. Based on the experience of countries which use this system, we are able to notice that more operators decide to apply for permits due to a greater chance of profitability. Legal markets grow in countries where gross revenues are taxed, while the grey economy systematically decreases.

 

 

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