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The Polish gambling industry has been the subject of many major changes, however not all of them are clear for the operators and shareholders.
So, I took advantage of the opportunity to catch up with Piotr Dynowski (Partner and Head of IP, Media, Tech & Comms practice at Bird & Bird’s Warsaw Office), who is going to be among the speakers at Prague Gaming Summit 2018 (more details here...), to gain an inside perspective on the Polish gambling market.
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I would like to thank you for spending time to answer our questions. First I would kindly ask you to shortly introduce yourself.
Piotr: My name is Piotr Dynowski and I’m a partner and head of IP, Media, Tech & Comms practice at Bird & Bird’s Warsaw office. For over 10 years now, as part of my practice, I have advised clients on all aspects of gaming law, in particular online gambling and betting, social gaming and e-sports. I advise on licensing regimes, regulatory issues, as well as advertising and provision of B2B services to gambling operators.
What is your personal opinion about the European gambling industry and could you make a comparison with the market that you know better and the European situation in terms of gaming and gambling?
Piotr: Unfortunately, Poland is still one of the most restrictive markets in Europe with respect to gambling and doing business by gambling operators in Poland is still pretty difficult, but apparently the changes to the Polish gambling regulations introduced last year were quite beneficial to the licensed betting operators and helped them almost double their turnover in comparison to the previous years. In general running gambling business, even in the EU, is very difficult as legal regulations differ significantly from country to country, some are very restrictive, others pretty liberal, and it is one of probably very few industry sectors left in the EU that are still completely unharmonised and where it seems the fundamental freedoms on which the EU is based do not really apply. Gambling industry has also to struggle all the time with negative perception by many governments and sometimes also negative image in the society. Generally gambling is still often perceived as something a little doggy and causing a lot of harm to the society despite all the efforts of the industry towards fraud protection, fighting gambling addiction and other important initiatives to prove that it is not a different industry than any other entertainment industries.
In several Eastern European countries there are significant regulatory changes concerning online gambling. What advise would you give for the operators; which are the most attractive markets?
Piotr: Yes, we have seen recently some major changes to the gambling regulations in several Eastern European countries, but unfortunately most of them did not have too much impact on the situation of the private operators. Either they aimed at expanding and strengthening of the state monopoly like in Poland or Hungary or in theory created new opportunities for private operators to apply for new licences, but in practice turned out to be impossible to complete as in the Czech Republic. It seems that only Romania with its relatively liberal regulation in the region sees a major growth of its gambling market. The next big thing in Europe will most probably be Sweden which after years of strict monopoly will open soon to private operators. Taking into account that already a big number of companies in gambling industry are in fact of Nordic origin, the opening of the Swedish market will create enormous opportunities.
I would like to ask you to speak about the recent updates of the Polish gambling market. What can be expected in 2018 in terms of regulations, changes in this particular industry in Poland?
Piotr: Unfortunately, I’m afraid, there no major changes with respect to gambling regulations in Poland that we can expect in 2018. In my view any major future changes will depend on how successful the new online casino operations of the state monopoly will be, but there are delays with the launch of it, so it will take still some time to see how they are doing. If it is successful, the Polish government will have no incentive to liberalise the regulations and to let the private operators compete with the monopoly. But if it is a failure, they may reconsider whether it is not better to allow private operators to operate more freely and generate revenue for the state from the taxes. The only area where there may potentially be some changes in the foreseeable future is lowering slightly the taxes on gambling in Poland as they are currently very steep and one of the reasons many operators do not even try to apply for a licence here. Such change would certainly be welcome by the industry and could generate some more action on the market.
To hear more about the subject and meet Piotr in person, make sure you register and attend Prague Gaming Summit 2018, held on the 29th of March at Andel’s by Vienna House Prague.
Piotr is one of the leading Intellectual Property, patent and IP litigation lawyers in Poland.
Piotr advises on all aspects of gaming law, in particular online gambling and social gaming. His expertise covers licensing regimes, regulatory issues as well as advertising and provision of services such as electronic payments in relation to gambling products.
In 2011, as the Polish expert he participated in the research conducted by Cambridge Health Alliance together with Harvard Medical School and Harvard Law School, investigating associations between European gambling regulations and the actual gambling behavior of players.
In 2011, he represented the two largest European online gambling industry organisations in complaint proceedings against Poland to the European Commission for violation of the EU law by Polish gambling regulations, which resulted in the European Commission launching proceedings concerning violation of the EU law by Poland at the end of 2013 which terminated only in January 2016 after a number changes to the Polish gambling regulations were introduced.
He is a legal expert of the Polish Chamber of Commerce
Source: European Gaming Media and Events