July 12, 2023

  • Stanisław Radowicki, Managing Associate, Prof. Marek Wierzbowski i Partnerzy – Adwokaci i Radcowie Prawni

The Polish approach to the regulation of responsible gambling



When1 it comes to the regulation of gambling, there is no question that a properly formed national legal system has three primary objectives. It should regulate the principles of conducting business activity by entities organizing gambling games, it should provide a framework for public administration to supervise such an activity, and it should also take into account the protection of players.

For this reason, legal solutions are introduced which cover the obligations of commercial entities and usually take the form of responsible gaming regulations. Such solutions were also anticipated by the Polish legislator.

Responsible gambling

The term ‘responsible gambling’ arose in mid-90’ based on experience concerning “problem drinking” and the rules on „responsible drinking”. At this time, the need to counteract the growing problem of gambling addiction and to establish rules to limit such a negative phenomenon was noted. Approaches were conceived which would, on the one hand place certain obligations on the entities organizing the gambling games, and on the other, outline some self-control tools for the players. This twin approach is reflected in definitions of „responsible gambling”, where both dimensions are covered. With this in mind, we can define “responsible gambling” as a set of actions and policies undertaken and implemented by the participants of the gambling market sector (supervisory authorities, organizers of gambling, players, etc.) aimed at protecting the public and individual interests, including preventing and minimizing the negative effects of participating in gambling.

The above elements are commonly included in the corporate social responsibility (CSR) strategies of gambling operators showing their willingness to consider the protection of public and individual interests as well as profit maximization.

EU laws and regulations do not directly impinge on gambling activity in a direct or specific way, especially when it comes to responsible gambling. EU regulators have, for several years considered only online gambling.2 The most significant act is the Commission Recommendation 2014/478/EU of 14 July 2014 (the Recommendation) on principles for the protection of consumers and players of online gambling services and for the prevention of minors from gambling online3. The focus on online gambling is understandable, as the size of online gambling annual GGR in the EU and UK has growing sharply making it a more significant consumer protection concern.

The Recommendation contains a number of guidelines for member countries involving the implementation of specific obligations on entities organizing gambling games. These include among others:

  • the obligation to properly inform authorities about their activities;
  • the exclusion of minors from gambling games;
  • the rollout of transparent register procedures;
  • the possibility for players to set time and deposit limits at the registration stage; the implementation of mechanisms giving regular warnings of wins and losses and time spent playing;
  • limitations on deposit limits (at least 24 hours after submitting the application);
  • mechanisms to monitor player activity;
  • interventions with players when their gambling behavior indicates a risk of developing a gambling disorder;
  • mechanisms to facilitate game breaks and self-exclusion.

Responsible gambling rules in Poland

The Recommendation was implemented into the Polish Gambling Act in December 2016 which, among other things, obliged all the entities organizing gambling to implement and comply with the responsible gambling regulations. As was stated in the justification of the project of Act’s amendments which accompanied the Act, the aim of the new regulations is to ensure the highest possible level of protection of citizens, including minors, against the harmful effects of gambling related to playing slot machines and playing on the Internet. It was also highlighted that the new law created a legal environment that enables citizens to participate in gambling, but also contained protective elements against addiction and ensuring the proper functioning of games. This justification was reflected in art. 15 sect. 1d of the Gambling Act and it fulfills the Commission Recommendation.

Detailed research into the functioning of responsible gambling regulations has been conducted by four major Polish betting operators and one Polish operator of legal online casino. This shows that all the entities have implemented the regulations in a very similar way (for example, banners on the websites informing visitors of the ban on gambling by minors under 18-years old). Some differences can be observed in the way information related to gambling risk is presented (only two entities describe this risk in great detail, while the others generally indicate only the risk of gambling and addiction). As a standard, all betting operators distinguish between two client accounts (temporary/permanent), while in an online casino it is possible to set up only a permanent account. Interestingly, the self-control mechanisms which have been implemented are the same for all entities, differing only in the amounts of acceptable limits (daily game time limits range from 12 to 18 hours, monthly game time limits can be set from 300 to 558 hours; daily game wager limits range from 100,000 PLN to 10,000,000 PLN4 and monthly amounts limits can be settled between 1.2 mln PLN to 5.0 mln PLN per game). From this, it can be generally stated that all obligations arising from the responsible gambling regulations contained in the Gambling Act have been properly considered and implemented with some small differences in the methods of application.

However, even the best regulations will not be sufficient if there is no appropriate enforcement of their provisions, including sanctions for infringement. It is noticeable from experience elsewhere that these aspects have proven extremely important for supervisory bodies in countries in the EU, and in the UK. When we compare the levels of activity in this area, the UK Gambling Commission stands out as a regulator which conducts active supervisory activities and applies severe sanctions for breaching the rules of responsible gaming. Fines imposed by the Gambling Commission in recent years have been spectacular reflecting their commitment and determination to protect individuals and prevent gambling harms.

In Poland, the art. 89 section 1 subsection 2 and section 4 subsection 2 of Gambling Act, states that the financial fine from 10.000 PLN to 200.000 PLN can be imposed on any entity which is in violation of the terms of the regulations. This seems lenient when compared to the fines imposed by the Gambling Commission in the UK. It should also be noted that proceedings in these matters are not conducted by the Minister of Finance (the supervisory authority), and in any case, publicly available sources indicate that fines for organizing games which are in breach of responsible gaming regulations are not imposed. It seems likely that this approach may prove insufficient supervision by the authorities in these matters.


Taking into consideration all the issues discussed in this paper, it can be stated that the principles of responsible gambling have been implemented in Poland in a consistent manner by all the entities covered thereunder, reflect the guidelines contained in the Recommendation. It is both the policy and practice of regulatory authorities in EU countries and the UK to investigate compliance by entities organizing the gambling games. Comparing compliance against responsible gambling regulations/codes, constitutes the basis for sanctions in case of violations. Fines imposed for breaches of responsible gambling and social responsibility rules are severe and are published.

In Poland we note a significant lack of proper supervision by the Ministry of Finance when it comes to compliance by of the operators with the responsible gambling rules. Despite the existence of sanction regulations in Gambling Act, the fines provided for therein are low and are not imposed by supervisory authority. Fines are also disproportionate to potential violations and out of step with fines imposed in other EU countries and UK. We consider that this practice by the Polish authority should change, and be replaced by a the more active enforcement of existing regulations of the Gambling Act to increase the protection of players, including strengthening the actual importance of responsible gambling in Poland.