Poland’s Ministry of Finance is investigating potential illegal advertising of gambling operators, including the Dutch national lottery at the 2023 Men’s Handball Championship.
During the event, which is jointly hosted by Poland and Sweden and runs between January 11-29, the national teams of the Netherlands, Serbia and Montenegro have played while wearing shirts that feature ads of lottery operator Nederlandse Loterij, and bookmakers Mozzartbet and SBBet, respectively.
“Relevant units of the National Tax Administration are currently analysing this information also within the penal fiscal scope,” a spokesperson for the finance ministry told local business daily Rzeczpospolita.
“Currently, none of those companies [whose ads were displayed by the three national teams] has a licence to offer bookmaking services in Poland,” according to the spokesperson.
Figures from the finance ministry indicate that a total of 24 bookmakers are licensed to offer bets online and at betting shops to Poland-based customers.
The ministry initiated proceedings after local gambling industry association Play Legally filed a complaint, notifying it that the three national handball federations could be using the event to promote unlicensed gambling businesses.
Under Polish law, the ministry could impose a penalty of up to PLN70,000 (€15,000) on each of the three federations for advertising unlicensed gambling operators during the world cup.
This is based on an assumption that the authorities will apply the provisions of the country’s penal fiscal code that relate to minor offences. Should the ministry treat the violations as serious offences, each of the three federations could face a significantly more severe penalty of up to PLN33m (€7m).
However, comments from the government spokesperson indicate this is unlikely to happen because the ministry does not consider the potential violations to be advertising on behalf of the country’s gambling black market.
“The activities of the National Tax Administration are directed at combating crime in the field of gambling, with a focus on targeting persons who are responsible for organising illegal activities,” the ministry representative said.
The Polish Handball Association (ZPRP), which is a co-host of this year’s edition of the world cup along with its Swedish counterpart, said it has notified the event’s participants about Poland’s regulations on gambling advertising.
“The International Handball Federation and all of the participants of the world cup have been informed about the rules that apply in our country to advertisements of companies which offer betting services,” a spokesperson for the ZPRP said.
The association’s representative said that the ZPRP does not have the means to approve the contents of the shirts worn by foreign teams during the event and respective federations have the liberty to decide which logos are displayed on the shirts, with the exception of sleeves.
Set up in 2016 and based in Poland’s capital Warsaw, Play Legally said it represents the interests of local licensed bookmakers.