On June 17, Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski signed a controversial amendment to the Polish gambling laws. The amendment prohibits all forms of mobile and online gambling with the sole exception of betting on sports games online.
Not only are online casinos forbidden from operating within Poland, but Polish citizens are also forbidden from playing at foreign based online casinos in Poland.
The law includes a controversial provision which will allow the prosecution of mobile and online casino operators in other European Union member states which legally offer gambling services in the Polish language.
Such a provision is clearly against a number of fundamental EU regulations and treaties, and the European Union Court is guaranteed to hear numerous objections to the new Polish gambling laws.
What makes the new Polish gambling regulations interesting is the unconventional benchmark used to distinguish online casino games and online poker from online bets on sports in Poland. Unlike most countries which separate games of luck/chance from games of skill, Poland took an entirely different approach.
The law is based on an assumption that all online based games have such a high possibility of being fixed, manipulated, cheated or rigged, and such a high possibility of addiction, that it would be immoral to provide online gambling options to citizens.
Betting on sporting events online is viewed differently by the law since ‘the actual sporting event takes place in the real world and not within a computer. (I guess Polish law makers completely tuned out the massive sports corruption headlines from practically every member state of the European Union during the past year.)
According to the language of the Polish gambling law, online sportsbooks only provide punters with a convenient access point and distribution channel to record and transmit betting information. The event, upon which the bet is placed, does not occur within some unknown computer attached to the internet.
For now, millions of Polish online gamblers have been declared criminals, yet over one hundreds regulated foreign online casinos, dozens of established poker rooms and bingo parlors welcome Polish online gamblers and provide services in the Polish language.
Analysts unanimously agree that in its current form the amended Polish gambling laws are illegal under multiple EU treaties which Poland signed and agreed to abide by.