The year of 2016 has definitely brought quite some bad news to the poker community, especially in Eastern Europe. Czech Republic, a home to only 10.5 million people, estimated to be contributing around six billion USD to the revenues of various online casinos, betting companies and poker rooms. The government decided to act and its actions were actually quite harsh. Firstly, the government has introduced an extra taxation policies. Any online game that lets people win by chance, and it seems like poker falls into this category, is a subject to a 35% tax on the Gross Gaming Revenues. Lottery players and sports betters are a subject to a 23% tax.
What makes things worth is that those are not the only taxes to be paid. On top of that, Czech tax authorities require a 19% income tax to be settled as well. This certainly makes online gambling and betting less attractive. The things seem to be even less appealing for the poker players. The government has set caps on maximum bets and maximum winnings. From now on, a Czech poker player will not be able to bet over 1,000 CZK, an equivalent of 40 USD, per game. And the winnings may not exceed 50,000 CZK, an equivalent of 2,000 USD. This certainly makes it impossible for the Czech players to participate in such large tournaments as Sunday Million. On the flipside, online gambling will be finally regulated in this country. There is still no information about how the country is planning to treat so rapidly growing bitcoin betting portals, and this might be the only hope for the online poker players.
The largest market in Eastern Europe is certainly Poland. Being a home to 38 million people, Poles certainly stay behind the GDP per capita, yet the population is just enormous. The online gambling and online poker laws have been designed in a quite restrictive manner. However, they were seldom obeyed by the poker rooms. Until now, only operators that are physically based in Poland could apply for the local license and onboard the local customers. Well, nearly none of the operators went for the local regulation, yet almost every poker room continued serving the Polish market. Today, the government of Poland looks into implementing similar to Czech Republic’s gambling policies and introducing a high tax on Gross Gaming Revenues.
A possible response
The history has shown that harsh regulations almost always result in lose-lose situations. With the upcoming regulatory framework, online gambling might simply become unattractive for many players. Alternatively, these players would have to avoid paying taxes. As a result, it is quite possible to project the raise of the online betting sites and various poker rooms that operate using a more sophisticated and secured payment method – the bitcoin. The popularity of gambling with cryptocurrencies have increasing dramatically over the course of the last few years, and the chances that bitcoin gambling will get even more traction in Eastern Europe are pretty high.