The iPoker Network has withdrawn all its member sites from the Polish online gaming market in direct response to new gambling regulations that took effect in the beginning of April. Some sites, such as William Hill and bet365, already exited the market in March, but now it is everyone. Things like this have been occurring more frequently over the last couple years, but word on the street is that some of the poker rooms didn’t even warn their customers in advance, leaving many people looking for alternatives.
Online poker had not been technically legal prior to the new poker regulations – only the lottery and online sports betting were permitted – but clearly sites were functioning in Poland. Presently, the state-controlled gambling monopoly, Totalizator Sportowy, is the sole entity allowed to operate online casino, poker, and bingo games.
Considering the fact, the iPoker Network might have tried to remain within the country, as most of its rooms do feature online sports books. It would have been plausible for the sites to apply for licenses. But it appears likely that the final deciding factor on the departure from Poland is the nutty tax law in place for online gaming.
Regulations state that an online gaming operator must be taxed at 12 percent of annual turnover, a calculation that is essentially insane. Generally, operators are taxed depending on gross gaming revenue, essentially how much cash the site brings in from bettors minus how much it cashes out. , On the other hand, turnover is how much players bet without considering how much of that turns into real revenue for the site or how much is given back to players in winnings.
At one stage, it was suggested to make that number a whopping 20 percent, which would have been astronomical. For many small operators, it is not worth applying for a license with the current tax rate. The Polish government has stated that it would take another view at the tax issue in the future. Online gaming operator bwin seem to have not lost hope, as it applied for a gaming license last month.
Meanwhile, sites and networks are deciding what to do. There is always the option of flaunting the law and just keep running in Poland without a license, though it is uncertain as to who might take that step. The government has confirmed that it will start blocking unlicensed domains along with their payment methods by July 1st, but steps like that haven’t always boded very well in other jurisdictions.
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