Land-based gambling

Types

What types of land-based gambling are permitted in your jurisdiction, and is gambling regulated at a national or subnational level?

Gambling in Poland is regulated at a national level. The main legal act concerning the gambling sector is the Act of 19 November 2009 on Gambling Games (the Gambling Act). The Gambling Act defines several types of gambling games that are permitted in land-based form, grouped into four categories:

  • games of chance - including casino-style games (eg, dice and roulette), and several variants of bingo, lotteries and ‘number games’;
  • betting - totalisator systems and bookmaking;
  • card games - blackjack, poker and baccarat; and
  • slot machine games.

A state-owned company is exclusively allowed to offer certain games, namely:

  • ‘number games’ (random number lotteries such as Lotto, a de facto national lottery in Poland);
  • cash lotteries;
  • telebingo (a variant of bingo playable with the use of television, currently not organised in Poland); and
  • slot machine gaming outside of casinos.

The monopoly is granted to the state-owned company Totalizator Sportowy sp z o.o.

Other land-based gambling games may be offered by private entities and include:

  • running casinos (where card games, roulette, and dice may be played and where slot machines may operate);
  • bingo saloons;
  • betting;
  • promotional lotteries (lotteries where buying certain goods or services is required to participate); and
  • raffle bingo and raffle lotteries (the last two may only be organised for charitable purposes).

Poker tournaments may be organised after notifying the director of a revenue administration regional office. In most cases only a casino licence holder may organise them. If the tournament is not organised by a casino, it may only offer in-kind prizes of minor value (the total value of prizes may not exceed 50 per cent of the ‘base amount’, which in 2019 is 2,405.71 zlotys (see question 10 for a description of the base amount). Poker may also be played in casinos against the casino - no notification is then required.

Establishment licensing

Please describe the licensing criteria to operate land-based gambling of each type or classification. Does your jurisdiction limit the number of available licences?

In general, providing any gambling games by private operators requires obtaining a licence, for casinos, or a permit, for betting operators, bingo saloons, and most lotteries. Certain games, such as poker tournaments, only require notifying the relevant authorities in advance.

The licensing process requires filing an application to the relevant authority - the minister in charge of public finance or the director of a revenue administration regional office, depending on the type of game.

The details of the requirements vary from game to game, but in general the main elements of each application include:

  • the applicant’s details;
  • details of the planned operation (starting date or duration, place and so on);
  • certificates or declarations of no tax, customs duty or social security arrears;
  • documents proving the legality of the applicant’s financial resources;
  • an economic and financial study concerning the investment and expected profitability (for casinos, bingo saloons and betting operators);
  • a certificate or affidavit confirming that the applicant’s operation is compliant with AML and financing of terrorism regulations (for casinos, bingo saloons and betting operators);
  • documents proving the title to use the premises intended for gambling (for casinos and bingo saloons) or permission by the proprietor of such premises to locate a betting shop there (for betting operators);
  • the applicant’s financial statement for the previous turnover year; and
  • drafts of terms and conditions of the games, which have to be approved by the regulator.

Moreover, there are requirements concerning the characteristics of companies operating in the gambling sector. For instance, a minimum share capital of 2 million zlotys is required for a betting operator.

Licences and permits are granted if the applicant meets the requirements of the Gambling Act. In practice, as there are several such requirements, and many of them are not precise, this allows their evaluation at the authorities’ discretion.

There are limitations concerning the number of casinos and bingo saloons throughout Poland. Only one casino can operate in a single location (village or city) of up to 250,000 inhabitants. The limit is increased by one each additional 250,000 inhabitants, and there may not be more than one casino per 650,000 inhabitants in a single province. Similar regulations concern bingo saloons, but with the thresholds being 100,000 inhabitants per one saloon, and 300,000 per province, respectively. There are currently no bingo saloons operating in Poland.

If there is more than one application for a licence or permit subject to limitations, a public tender is organised.

There are also limitations concerning the number of slot machines in slot machine parlours (no more than one machine per each 1,000 inhabitants in one district, but this market is subject to state monopoly). Other gambling permits are not limited in number.

Obtaining a licence requires payment of a fee, calculated as a percentage of a ‘base amount’ - a sum based on average monthly salary in Poland in the previous year. For 2019, 100 per cent of the base amount is 4,811.42 zlotys. The fees are as follows:

  • casino licence - 32,000 per cent of the base amount (1,539,654.40 zlotys for 2019);
  • bingo saloon permit - 5,500 per cent of the base amount (264,628.10 zlotys for 2019);
  • betting permit - 2,000 per cent of the base amount (96,228.40 zlotys for 2019), plus 50 per cent of the base amount (2,405.71 zlotys) per each bet-making point;
  • raffle lotteries and raffle bingo - 100 per cent of the base amount (4,811.42 zlotys for 2019), or if a game is only held within one province, 50 per cent of the base amount (2,405.71 zlotys for 2019);
  • promotional lotteries and audiotex lotteries - 10 per cent of the total value of prizes, but not less than 50 per cent of the base amount (2,405.71 zlotys for 2019).

For some games, gambling operators are also required to provide a guarantee, in the form of a bank or insurance guarantee or by payment of a deposit. For instance, for casino operators, the guarantee sum is 1.2 million zlotys. The guarantee is intended to secure payment of taxes and cover players’ claims.

Licences and permits concerning casinos, bingo saloons and betting, are valid for six years and may be extended by another six years. Permits concerning other gambling games are granted for the period of a given game, but for no longer than two years.

Director, officer and owner licensing

Must individual directors, officers or owners of licensees also be licensed or reviewed for suitability?

For companies operating casinos, bingo saloons, betting shops and audiotex lotteries, the members of their managing boards, as well as supervisory boards or shareholders holding more than 10 per cent of the share capital of such companies, may not, inter alia:

  • be convicted of a crime;
  • have their own gambling licence or permit (or for one of the companies they acted for) revoked; or
  • raise ‘justified concerns’ in relation to state security, public order, security of the economic interests of the state, as well as concerns from the perspective of the regulations on combating money laundering or financing of terrorism.

There are no individual licences issued for directors, officers or owners of licensees, but such persons, as well as those directly conducting games (such as croupiers) are required to undergo training on gambling regulations and terms and conditions of games.

Location

May a gambling location be part of a resort, restaurant or other multi-purpose location? What limitations apply?

There are no laws in Poland that specifically address this issue. In general, playing casino games and betting may only occur in casinos and betting shops, respectively. In practice, casinos are often located on the premises of hotels, but the place used for gambling is separated from the rest because of requirements imposed specifically on casinos, such as the obligation to record the personal details of each participant.

Passive/institutional ownership

Are there provisions for passive or institutional ownership that allow for exemption or modification of licensing requirements?

Licences or permits are not alienable, unless the company holding it is subject to a merger or acquisition. Therefore, ownership of shares does not have an impact on licensing requirements.

Responsible gambling

What responsible gambling obligations apply to licensees?

Since April 2017, the state-owned operator in relation to slot machines and all online gambling operators in Poland is obliged to implement internal responsible gambling policies that include, among other measures, providing information on risks related to participation in gambling and institutions providing assistance to persons with gambling addiction problems, as well as enforcing the prohibition of the participation of minors in gambling and further gambling once the financial resources of a participant were exhausted (prohibition of gambling ‘on credit’).

Criminal courts may bar individuals from participating in gambling, but this measure may only be applied in case of a conviction connected with organising or participating in illegal gambling. No such measures are available as remedies for gambling addiction.

Taxes

What type of tax and what tax rate applies to each form of lawful land-based gambling activity?

Most gambling games are subject to gambling tax, which the operators of such games are obliged to pay. Organising promotional lotteries, poker tournaments and minor raffle bingo and raffle lotteries is not subject to this tax. For poker tournaments, the participants are obliged to pay the tax, but this is deducted from winnings and settled by the organiser of the tournament.

The tax rates and bases are different for each game:

Game

Tax rate

Tax base

Raffle lottery

10%

Earnings from sale of lots

Cash lottery

15%

Earnings from sale of lots

Telebingo

25%

Earnings from sale of lots

Audiotex lottery

25%

Organiser’s revenue from the game

Number game

20%

Sum of wages paid by participants

Sports betting for the competition of animals (if the permit covers only such type of betting)

2.5%

Sum of wages paid by participants

Other forms of betting

12%

Sum of wages paid by participants

Cash bingo

25%

Nominal value of cards bought by the organiser

Raffle bingo

10%

Nominal value of cards used for the game

Roulette, dice, card games (except poker tournaments)

50%

Difference between the sum of stakes paid and the sum of winnings paid to winners

Poker tournament

25%

Winnings minus registration fee

Slot machine

50%

Difference between the sum of stakes paid and the sum of winnings

In most cases, winnings from gambling games of over 2,280 zlotys are subject to personal income tax of 10 per cent. Exceptions to this rule include winnings from slot machines, casino games, cash bingo, and raffle bingo, which are exempt from personal income tax.