Bwin Bucking The Exit Trend In Poland?

While rivals exit in protest at harsh new licensing and regulatory regime, Bwin pursues licensing

GVC Holdings online gambling subsidiary Bwin appears to be bucking the trend in Poland, reportedly applying for licensing whilst rivals are busy withdrawing from the market as a result of punitive taxation and a regulatory regime that favours local companies.

The new regime came into force at the beginning of this (April) month in the form of a new Gambling Act imposing a tax rate of 12 percent on turnover for online sports betting companies, precipitating the departure of major companies like William Hill, Pinnacle, EnergyBet, Betfair, bet365 and Olympic Entertainment Group.

Bwin’s website advises Polish punters that it has applied for a local licence and is working with the authorities on the process, but in the meantime has halted wagering in order to comply with government requirements under the new legislation, which specifically prohibits unlicensed operators from offering their services on pain of severe penalties and blacklisting, expected to be implemented by July 1 this year.

Whilst sports betting has been opened to foreign companies who achieve licensing, online casino and poker activity under the new law is the exclusive preserve of the state-operated and owned Totlizator Sportowy group.

The twin constraints of high tax and favoured rivals has discouraged many betting firms from applying for licenses, which some observers have speculated was the intention of the government in the first place.

Trade associations like the Remote Gaming Association have condemned the tax regime as not viable and “unworkable” from an operator perspective.

However, there could be a revision of the tax rate; the government has indicated that it may be prepared to reconsider its position at some future date. Until that happens, many operators are likely to shun the market.