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  • Polish rivals team up for “Play Legally” campaign against country’s grey market
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Poland’s largest licensed bookmakers, STS and Fortuna, have joined forces for a new campaign aimed at tackling the prevalence of unlicensed gambling operators in the country.

Between 12 and 15 May, both operators will replace all of their in-stadium and kit branding secured through sponsorships of sports leagues and teams with the slogan “Play Legally”.

In particular, all of the operators’ branding in Poland’s top-flight football league, the Polski Ekstraklasa, will be replaced with the slogan for the duration of the campaign.

The campaign aims to draw attention to the prevalence of unlicensed bookmakers in Poland, which are estimated by EY Poland to account for some 45% of the country’s entire betting market.

In 2021, that equated to betting handle of PLN7.6bn (€1.67bn), which meant estimated losses to the state in the form of unpaid gambling taxes of around PLN379m.

“The legal part of the industry has been calling for years for stronger measures to be introduced against companies operating outside Polish law, including more effective blocking of illegal websites and payments to them.”

– STS president Mateusz Juroszek

In a joint statement, STS and Fortuna said that although the proportion of Poland’s gambling market being lost to unlicensed operators has declined in recent years, the real-terms amount of money spent in the grey market has been increasing.

The decrease in share lost to the grey market has been driven by the rapid growth of the licensed sector, the operators said, but the grey market continues to grow all the time.

The “Play Legally” campaign logo

In addition to their “Play Legally” campaign, the bookmakers have called for a reduction in Poland’s gaming tax, which is set at 12% of betting handle and is therefore one of the highest tax rates in Europe.

The blocking of unlicensed websites and payment methods is also part of the solution, they suggested, but those measures can be easily circumnavigated by offshore bookies.

“We believe that a more liberal nature of legal regulations, similar to those in most European Union countries, would result in a dynamic development of the bookmaking market in Poland. 

– Fortuna president Konrad Komarczuk

“While the 2017 amendment to the Gambling Law has clearly improved the situation in the sector, the problem of the grey market has still not been resolved,” said Fortuna president Konrad Komarczuk. 

“We believe that a more liberal nature of legal regulations, similar to those in most European Union countries, would result in a dynamic development of the bookmaking market in Poland. 

“This, in turn, would be associated with increased revenues for both legal operators and the state budget or sports entities supported by bookmaking companies with millions of dollars each year under sponsorship agreements.”

STS president Mateusz Juroszek added that “we notice and appreciate the government’s actions against companies that operate in Poland without a licence, but we still assess them as definitely insufficient. 

“The legal part of the industry has been calling for years for stronger measures to be introduced against companies operating outside Polish law, including more effective blocking of illegal websites and payments to them.”

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