Kindred Accused of Targeting Polish Players
Kindred faces a potential $6.3 million fine
Unibet, which is Kindred Group’s sports betting arm, faces a potential fine after being accused of targeting Polish customers. The penalty could be as high as $6.3 million. A local Polish operator has reported Unibet for breaching the rules. Kindred does not have a license to operate in the country.
Strict gambling laws
Gambling laws are very strict in Poland, and the Government has been very resistant to attempts to relax regulations in the country. As a result, there is more flexibility in sports betting than in Polish online casinos. The only operator in the country allowed to offer casino games is the state-owned Totalizator Sportowy.
Poles can bet on most sports, from football and horseracing to more niche ones like badminton and table tennis. Esports are also incredibly popular in the country.
International operators withdrew from Poland
Online sports betting platforms are required to have a physical presence in the country. In addition, the law says they have to keep an up-to-date database of registered players logged with the Ministry of Finance. When the Gambling Law was introduced in 2009, many of the international operators decided to suspend their operations in Poland. Unibet officially withdrew from the market in 2017.
STS says Entain is acting illegally
STS Gaming is the biggest gambling company in Poland. They have said that Unibet has been illegally targeting people in Poland with its products. STS says that Entain has been actively marketing content to people in Poland for a long time.
STS has alleged that Unibet has offered gambling opportunities to customers without the permission of the Ministry of Finance. STS Gaming has said that Unibet did so explicitly. They said that foreign football clubs displayed Unibet logos on their shirts during football matches in Poland. This was just one example of illegally promoting their products.
Unibet was accused of acting in an underhand manner
In addition, they say Unibet has been acting in an underhand manner in an attempt to get around a block by the Ministry of Finance. It is alleged that Unibet has changed its domain name to circumvent a ban. Finally, STS implied that Kindred does not have adequate protection for Polish citizens and therefore exposes them to gambling harms. This is despite Kindred operating legally in neighbouring countries.
A lawsuit has been filed
STS has now launched a lawsuit against Kindred Group. Zdzisław Kostrubała is a board member at STS Gaming. He claims that Unibet did not exit the market in 2017 as it had agreed. Kindred ended its Polish license when a 12% gross gambling tax on turnover was imposed by the Government. Kostrubala says that Unibet has continued to take bets from Polish citizens, and the parent company has maintained a site in the Polish language. He says that this is evidence that they are in violation of the law.
What penalties could Kindred face?
The penalty for promoting content to local customers is a fine of up to $6.3 million. In addition, there is a further fine of $670,000 for offering gambling in Poland without a license or the regulator’s approval.
Poland in breach of EU competition rights
Many operators claim that the Polish gambling laws infringe EU competition rights. Furthermore, they claim that the Polish Government favours local operators over international ones. As a result, the European Commission has requested Poland review its approach to online gambling. This is just one area of tension between socially conservative Poland and the more progressive EU of which it is a member.
Unibet prohibited in Poland
Warsaw’s District Court has now prohibited Unibet from offering content or marketing its services within Poland and to customers in Poland. The Court also appealed to all legal companies to oppose the offshore brand. STS responded positively to the news and praised the Court’s decision. Kostrubula said that he hopes that compliance by Unibet will avoid the need for further legal action.
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