February 01, 2010

Poland’s biggest ski resort fined for gambling ads

Zakopane, located in deep in the Tatra Mountains, is the largest ski resort in all of Poland. The country’s winter capital is facing heavy fines from the Customs Chamber for recently advertising a French online sportsbook called “Bet-at-home”.

During the recent FIS Ski Jumping World Cup events, which took place at Zakopane on the 22nd and 23rd of January, the “Bet-at-home” name and logo appeared on contestants’ outfits as well as on banners hung around the Wielka Krokiew ski jumping venue in Zakopane.

Recent changes to Polish gambling laws came into force on the first of January making this sort of advertising illegal. Zakopane now faces a fine as high as 1.2 million zloty (300,000 euro).

“If we pay the fine, not only won’t the World Cup bring any profit, but it will make losses,” said Lech Nadarkiewicz, the organizer of the World Cup events in Zakopane.

The Tatra Skiing Association is arguing that the advertising contract with the French gambling company was signed before the law changed, while Bet-at-home is arguing that Poland’s new gambling laws violate EU free trade standards.

The new gambling laws, it seems, are causing nothing but trouble. A few weeks ago, representatives of groups that operate online gambling sites in Poland filed a complaint with the European Comission, insisting that the Polish Economy Ministry violated EU procedure by changing their gambling laws without first passing them by Brussels for consideration. All laws related to the internet must be approved, and since part of Poland’s new gambling laws deal with online gambling, Poland may face fines from the EC.

Whatever the future of internet gambling in Poland, it is clear that the European Comission wants to be involved.

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