The amendment to the Gambling Act in Poland, which entered into force on April 1st, 2017 imposed several mechanisms on Polish betting operators to protect the player against gambling addiction. Companies from Poland have met the expectations of the Ministry of Finance (MF) and run their business without concern from the regulator. Are these guidelines created by the MF really worth something, or is it just a smokescreen for gambling problems?
Bookmakers in Poland have been gaining popularity for several years. People are betting more and more with the bookmaker and spending more money on gambling entertainment. Seeing this state of affairs and fearing the problem of addiction, the Ministry of Finance, following the footsteps of other countries, has introduced mechanisms to stop this process.
Each bookmaker after April 1st, 2017 had to introduce the Rules of Responsible Gaming, provide addresses of institutions fighting addictions and write out a list of questions that check if the respondent has problems with gambling. In addition, limits on responsible gaming have been introduced. Each online player must set their own deposit limits, time spent on the game or the amount of a single bet.
One should ask the question whether the abovementioned defense mechanisms really give something. Referring to the Rules of Responsible Gaming, questions and contact to associations – all of this is usually hidden somewhere in the footer on the operator’s website and is hardly visible. The limits that the player must set are usually automatically set to maximum amounts, e.g. PLN 10 million. The user only needs to click “Set Limit”, which is set in advance, hardly anyone will want to change it. If a person appears who wants to do it, they will be able to change this limit after a few hours if they want to. Just contact the customer service department.
There are defense mechanisms against pathological gambling, but do they work properly? Very doubtful. This precedent looks completely different in some other countries. In Australia, gambling operators have a command to control player behavior. If the operator neglects the symptoms that the player may have a problem, a large financial penalty may be imposed on the company. A few months ago it was notorious that Betfair Australia had to give the client over $ 100,000. The player requested a withdrawal and then lost a large amount of money. After a terrible defeat, he called the customer service department and blocked the payment. The bookmaker returned $ 100,000 back to the player’s accounts, which were also lost quite quickly.
The court decided that the operator abandoned the procedure, did not notice clear signals about the problem and decided that Betfair must withdraw the money.
This is a fairly drastic example, but it clearly shows that in other countries they put a strong emphasis on protecting the community from pathological gambling.
In England, companies engage in ads adhering to addiction, “Responsible Gambling Weeks” are organized, operators themselves take the initiative to reduce the number of gambling ads on television.