Polish bookmakers call for temporary tax reduction

30 March 2020

Poland’s Association of Employers and Employees of Bookmakers has called on the country's government to step in and help the sector avoid significant job losses as a result of the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.

The industry association said it has seen the number of bets placed drop by around 60% due to the cancellation of sports across the globe. This decline is expected to worsen, it warned, particularly after all retail bookmakers in Poland closed from 14 March.

As a result bookmakers have seen customer spending disappear, meaning they are losing money, with no way to mitigate the shut-down.

This, the association said, would result in efforts to reduce fixed costs, icluding mass redundancies, with many operators now facing bankruptcy. The situation could result in most of the 5,000 staff employed in betting shops, not to mention head office staff, risk losing their jobs, it warned.

The sector is already struggling with significant offshore competition, which a Supreme Audit Office (NIK) report published in September last year estimated to account for around 51% of total gambling spend each year.

There could also be a knock-on effect on state coffers, the association added. The regulated Polish gambling industry has an annual turnover estimated at PLN7bn (£1.36bn/€1.53bn/$1.69bn), of which at least PLN820m goes to the state through gambling and lottery taxes.

To avoid job losses and protect the state's tax revenue, the association urged the Polish government to reducing gambling tax rates from 12% to 10% of turnover at least until August this year. 

In addition, the association asked the government to delay the deadline for paying these taxes to September. Under normal circumstances, the taxes are paid monthly.

Earlier this month, the Polish Ministry of Finance claimed the market share for so-called ‘grey’ operators fell to 18.5% in 2019, below the average across the European Union (EU).

In January, legal association Graj Legalnie reported that regulated bookmakers in Poland generated combined turnover of PLN6.7bn (£1.36bn/€1.58bn/$1.76bn) in 2019, a 28.8% year-on-year increase.