Poland has shifted control of its blacklist to a new department, in a move that has frustrated groups pushing for the creation of a dedicated gambling regulator.
The Ministry of Finance has released a new regulation which designates the Customs and Tax Office in Opole as the new entity charged with maintaining Poland’s blacklist of illegal gambling websites and blocking access to the blacklisted domains.
The development suggests the ministry is not planning to listen to the pleas of the local gambling industry and work on establishing a new regulator tasked with maintaining the blacklist.
Among others, local gambling industry association Play Legally has called on Poland’s government to set up a new regulator to oversee the country’s gambling market and operate the blacklist, similar to the agencies set up in the UK and Malta.
In its recent report, the Polish branch of the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC) also suggested creating a new gambling regulator, dubbed the Gambling Supervision Authority.
“Once more, we are recommending to set up a special entity whose main responsibility would be to supervise the gambling industry similarly to [how the Polish financial services industry is overseen by] the Financial Supervision Authority,” the UNGC said in the report.
“This is justified by the expanding size of the gambling industry, and also the increasingly complicated issues which need to be tackled by the state authorities: not only within the field of taxes, but also health, public safety, and combating organised crime,” according to the organisation.
The UNGC said the designated regulator could be tasked with operating “a proposed Central List of Trusted/Non-Trusted Entities of the Gambling Market”.
However, the government’s decision to redistribute responsibility for the blacklists strongly suggests this advice has fallen on deaf ears.
The tax office took on its new responsibilities for maintaining the blacklist last week, according to the ministry's regulation.
In an accompanying document which presented the reasons behind the switch, the finance ministry said that designating “the head of the Customs and Tax Office in Opole to perform this above-mentioned role is part of the efforts to ensure an efficient and effective performance of the tasks to combat the black market within online gambling”.
The tax office in Opole is already responsible for “monitoring the internet, identifying violations of the gambling law, securing proof for the purpose of entries” to the blacklist, according to the document.
Under the country’s amended gambling law of 2016 that introduced tighter regulations to combat offshore gambling, Poland has been blocking local users from accessing non-licensed gambling websites since 2017.
As of June 27, the blacklist comprises more than 25,300 domains.
Despite these efforts, offshore gambling operators continue to attract a sizable share of the Polish market. A 2021 opinion poll indicated that only 43 percent of Polish bettors claimed they did not use the services of unregistered bookmakers.