The Polish gambling industry is something of a minefield when it comes to online betting. Some aspects of the internet gaming industry are legal; most are not. Unlike many other European Union member states, Polish players can face prosecution for playing at offshore casinos. This makes carefully navigating the minefield mentioned above of paramount importance if you wish to bet online while in the country. It certainly helps to know what you can or cannot do, and we’ll try and break down the complexity of those laws as clearly as we can for you here.
Is Online Gambling Legal in Poland?
The simple answer as to whether gambling online in Poland is legal is both yes and no. In 2011, the Act on Gambling Games made some forms of online gambling legal. Online casino betting is regrettably illegal. In a sense, it works like this:
Only Polish companies and operators (owned by Polish nationals no less) are considered legal in the country. Moreover, these websites must be sportsbooks and not casinos or poker sites. They must only offer their services to players in Poland, and they must have a Polish issued gambling license.
Naturally, this goes against European Union regarding freedom of services and products. To try and smooth things over with the EU, Poland recently passed an amendment to the bill. It states that operators in other EU countries can apply for a Polish gambling license, provided they either have a physical venue in the country or join forces with an existing Polish company.
In short, if you wish to play at an online casino in Poland, it must be licensed out of Poland. This, understandably, doesn’t leave players with too many choices.
Polish Online Casinos
There aren’t too many Polish online casinos for you to get involved with. In fact, almost all of them are actually sportsbooks. At the last count, only around five or so were officially licensed to offer their services to players in the country. These are all Polish owned sites and are not available to any player located outside of the nation, including Polish expats, many of which may reside in the United Kingdom and other EU member states.
Polish online casinos must adhere to the letter of the law. In a sense, these few casinos have a monopoly (of sorts) on the Polish gambling industry. Most casinos operate as sportsbooks (although they offer a minimal number of casino games).
Offshore Casino Sites for Polish Players
Ordinarily, such restrictive laws would leave many nationals in other EU member states looking at offshore casinos instead. Such international casinos can best be described as foreign sites which are not based in the country in question (in this case, Poland) but offer their services to Polish sites. There are plenty of major foreign sites which do so – however, a word of warning.
Poland prohibits its players from accessing offshore casino sites. While they do not blacklist or block unlicensed casino sites, the nation does prosecute its players if they are caught gambling at said sites. They are, to date, the only European Union (EU) country known to do this.
In the last few years, Poland has tried to clarify this part of its law. The Polish Ministry of Finance has implied that only those Polish players who win vast sums are likely to be prosecuted. You can’t really trust them on that, though, given that the law clearly says anyone citizen caught gambling at offshore sites can be punished. This is especially unnerving when the penalties for being prosecuted include a fine and a criminal record. To date, over 1,000 Polish players have been indicted for playing at offshore casinos.
Given those kinds of laws, it is incredibly unwise for Polish players to try their hand at foreign sites. Even so, by using VPNs (virtual private networks), many Poles are happy to take the risk, under the notion that only big winners are likely to be charged. There is no way of guaranteeing that you’ll win small sums and stay under the radar, though, so players are advised to at least think about that.
Is Anything Likely to Change in the Future?
Such laws seem absurd for a modern European country inside the EU. It could be for that reason that there has been talk of changes regarding Poland’s gambling laws. One possible change we may see in the future is the addition of legal online poker sites. However, it is likely that if this were to come to pass, it would be under the same kinds of rules as Polish sportsbooks/casinos are allowed to operate today. In short, heavily restricted.
Poland has also talked of making their national lottery (and other Polish lotteries) legal to play online. This is the most likely change to occur in the next year or so.
As for broadscale changes to the online casino laws, don’t hold your breath. While Poland could take the same route as other EU member states – namely offering licenses to offshore operators and blacklisted those without them – there isn’t really any appetite for such a change in the Polish Government. Things are likely to stay as they are for online casino players in Poland for the immediate future.
Top Polish Casino Sites
As we’ve mentioned, Polish players are free to access any online casino, offshore or Polish licensed. However, there are risks when playing at any foreign casino from inside the country, with the worst case being a fine and a criminal record. We advise our Polish-based readers to consider this before playing at online casino sites.
However, any Pole currently residing outside of their homeland should encounter no problems whatsoever. Playing at a top Polish casino site while in the United Kingdom (for instance) is perfectly legal and does not see players fall foul of the restrictive gambling laws of their home country.
Numerous top offshore sites which do accept Polish players include Paradise Casino, Cleopatra, Genesis Casino, Casino Cruise, Fruity Casa, Regent Casino, Slots Heaven, bgo Casino, and Spin Casino to name a handful. Other respectable sites can be found on this page.