As soccer fever runs rampant and millions of Polish citizens’ zlotys go to World Cup wagers, advocates await the results of the July 4 presidential runoff to determine the future of Polish gambling laws. The election is the result of the April death in a airplane crash of then-president Lech Kaczynski.
Two items are certainly dominating Poland’s newspapers this week in advance of the presidential runoff election on Sunday in addition to the 2010 FIFA World Cup reaching its climactic finish. Estimates have figured up to 38 million zloty (about $11.23 million) will be wagered by Polish citizens, including a lion’s share of 30 million ($8.87 million) going to online gambling websites. Bookmakers will make as much as 40% more than in the same period of 2009 and very little of it will end up in Poland’s banks.
The reason for this was mainly the former administration’s all-out effort to firewall offending sites rather than regulate and tax foreign-owned casinos. Ironically, Kaczynski’s plan to “filter” the Internet in Poland was leaked to the public prematurely in February, was patently shown to be unconstitutional, and this “public relations disaster” (as described by the Wall Street Journal) continues to dog the late president’s party to this day.
Currently Lech Kaczynski’s twin brother, a former president of Poland who seeks to continue his brother’s policies, is trailing in polls by up to 11%. Leading is the pro-business, former speaker of parliament/acting president Bronislaw Komorowski and those in the industry belive that Komorowski is the man to liberalize online gambling laws in Poland to generate much-needed funds for the government in anticipation of Euro adoption.
Though the present fate of Internet gambling in Poland remains unclear, Sunday’s election will surely give a glimpse into the future of gaming in the country. For now, hundreds of online gambling sites are hosted in nations lying far outside the jurisdiction of the Polish government. For now, at least, online gambling in Poland is safe for players, if unfruitful for the authorities.