Bookmaker business in Poland. What is worth knowing about it?

Service Business

It cannot be concealed: legal bookmakers are doing better and better in Poland. This can be seen in the state budget revenues, which have been growing significantly since the changes to the gambling act (entered into force on April 1, 2017). Government sources say that in 2019 the tax on bets placed in stationary outlets reached PLN 166.6 million, and in online bookmakers as much as ... PLN 657.6 million. Comparing these numbers with the previous year, we are talking about an increase of 5.5 and 41.3%, respectively!

The math is simple, sports betting is getting close to generating a billion zlotys in gaming tax. It is a powerful industry, the offer of which does not need to be used, of course, but its importance cannot be underestimated and if you are interested in business, it is worth getting to know it at least a bit.

In this text, we have collected some important information on the operation of legal bookmakers in Poland.

The bookmaker industry without a state monopoly

It can be said that companies interested in entering the bookmaker escaped from the ax a few years ago. The gambling act, in force since 2017, allows private investors to enter the market.

Why is this worth emphasizing? Because not every branch of gambling works on the same principles.

Stationary casinos can be run by private companies, but a large part of the sector is subject to a state monopoly, or to be precise: the control of Totalizator Sportowy. The gambling giant is rooted in the Polish budget and has the exclusive right to run: number games, cash lotteries, slot machines and online casinos (this category also includes poker "rooms") - in total, these categories of money games give the budget more than 1 billion PLN of tax annually!

Against this background, there is a lot of room for bookmakers who can take bets both in-store and online. An important topic appears here - who can become a bookmaker in Poland at all.

What company can become a bookmaker in Poland?

In short: a legal bookmaker is one that has been authorized by the Ministry of Finance to operate in Poland. A company with a license issued by the Vistula River.

This is important because until the entry into force of the gambling act, almost 90% of the market was controlled by foreign entities! Knowing the current data on revenues to the state budget, it is not difficult to estimate how much money "leaked" abroad, if Polish companies had to share only ... one tenth of the market.

Okay, let's take a look at the criteria that a bookmaker in Poland must meet. In addition to official formalities, it is worth saying right away that there will be no need for know-how and a lot of capital. Especially since we are talking about an increasingly digitizing industry. The technological direction is forced by the expectations of players, and in 2020 it is "supported" by a pandemic (this is also the case with all solutions "at a distance"). The appropriate IT level of the bookmaking business is also indicated in a way by the general principles of starting a business, which, after all, consists in launching a system for accepting and settling bets, as well as verifying and protecting users' personal data.

Below, briefly, a few examples of rules that must be met to enter the bookmaking activity in Poland:

  • the company must operate as a limited liability company or joint stock company and have a share capital of PLN 2 million,

  • the company may be registered abroad, but the condition for obtaining a license is activity based on the above-mentioned legal forms and having a branch in Poland,

  • the permit is issued in response to a rather complex application, including, among others, information on: the legal and financial status of the company, the National Court Register or the business plan,

  • bookmakers must develop a set of responsible gambling procedures, including control of activity on the website, verification of the age of users or the account registration procedure,

  • a candidate for a bookmaker must pay for the permit, and the amount of the fee depends on the base rate and the type of gambling activity planned (stationary points and / or online bets).

What if a company decides to offer bets to users in Poland, but has no license? Of course, it runs the risk of sanctions and the fact that it will be put on a black list with a slightly exaggerated name: the Register of Domains for Offering Gambling Games Inconsistent with the Act.

How many licensed bookmakers operate in Poland?

The procedure is time-consuming and costly, but despite this, the market was quite efficient, because in just 2-3 years, it was filled with about 20 legal bookmakers. The full list of entities, along with the division of their stationary / internet competences and website addresses, can be found on the website of the tax portal: -> Other taxes -> Gambling -> Mutual betting and gambling via the Internet.

It is interesting that the largest foreign bookmakers, global companies with millions of customers, still do not decide to return to Poland. Perhaps since 2017 the competition on the market has become so great that entering our market may be too risky and simply unprofitable for industry giants.

The future of the sports betting market

From the point of view of the state budget, it is good that the subject of the legality of bookmakers has been successfully taken up. Tax revenues give this solution the best review. Currently, bookmakers in Poland are expanding their offers and in terms of the range of bets or technological solutions they are in no way inferior to the largest foreign entities.

The forecast for the bookmaking industry is good - the market will most likely develop steadily, and the advantage of online betting over stationary betting will continue to grow.

What, in a sense, hinders the development of local bookmakers is the inability to expand the offer with online casinos. Abroad, this is a standard direction: companies are "combines", combining various gambling activities under one banner.

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