Poland Bans Online Poker

While most countries are moving towards allowing online poker and regulating it in order to reap the benefits, Poland has decided to move towards the opposite direction and actually ban the game. Their reasoning is simple: Poker is addictive, and thereby dangerous. It is difficult to regulate, and it is especially difficult to prevent incidents of cheating from occurring. However, this decision of theirs was somehow in conflict with the direction in which the rest of the EU was going, and so they are now being urged to rethink the matter.

The Regulation of Online Gambling

Online gambling is obviously something that needs regulation. Otherwise, people will be losing their money faster than they can earn it – and that’s never a good thing. What’s ironic, though, is that Poland allowed other forms of online gambling, such as sports betting. The reason they gave was that these games were based on real life events and not just something that’s generated by a system provider. Furthermore, they dismissed the general idea of poker as a game of skill, saying that poker is merely a game of luck and that it’s still based on a random element, namely the cards. That still doesn’t explain why the same people end up in final tables, but hey, who are we to argue, right? They also say that since it’s a game, poker can be highly addictive, and thereby dangerous to those who play it.

The first part of their reasons, admittedly, was a very weak argument. But when they went into the difficulties in regulation, things started to make sense. It’s hard to prevent things such as collusion from happening, as evidence by that Chinese crime ring that was exposed last year. Another valid concern was the idea of money laundering through online poker sites. Users could do the practice of ‘chip dumping’, which is to deliberately lose to another player for the purpose of transferring funds. This could be a very convenient way for avoiding taxes and, of course, money laundering.

The Opposition

The ban won’t be in effect until July, so there’s still time to reverse the decision without any major effects. There are those who believe that this new law is contrary to the competition rules developed by the EU and that it would make the Polish market difficult, if not impossible, for EU-licensed operators to get into. They have advised Poland to revise the entire thing in order to make it more compliant with EU policies.

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