During the first week of February, news got out that the Polish government was planning to take extreme measures to battle internet gambling – net censorship. Under the proposed internet filtration system, Polish citizens would be denied access to several different categories of websites, including certain kinds of pornography, as well as foreign-hosted online gambling sites that are not licensed to operate in Poland. Such content is considered to be socially dangerous, and the government felt the need to shield the eyes of its citizens.
Following the announcement, the Polish government faced a nation of irate internet users. Petitions popped up overnight, signed by thousands. Internet groups emerged on Facebook and other social networking sites where players discussed their outrage over the possibility of losing access to online gambling sites in Poland.
This strong reaction by the people, it seems, has paid off. After long talks between Prime Minister Donald Tusk and certain nongovernmental organizations, all plans to censor the internet in Poland have been abandoned. A statement to this effect was issued on the prime minister’s website late last week.
The Wall Street Journal calls the entire affair a “major public-relations disaster”. The situation is made even worse in light of the fact that a draft of the proposed internet filter system had already been sent to the Constitutional Tribunal, and was quickly deemed to be unconstitutional by the Polish Parliament.
Tusk’s decision to abandon the filter plans was timely in many respects. Despite the fiasco, his quick action may well be enough to cover this blemish on his public image.
The fate of internet gambling in Poland is still not clear. The lack of an internet filtering system will mean that players can rest easy, knowing that online gambling is just a few clicks away. There are hundreds of gambling sites online that are hosted in other countries – places which lie far outside the jurisdiction of the Polish government. For now, at least, online gambling in Poland is safe.