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Casinos reopening in Poland

After closing all of their casinos in December due to the Covid-19 pandemic, American operator Century Casinos announced that its subsidiary, Casinos Poland, reopened its eight venues across Poland on February 12, following a government decree that allowed casinos, hotels, bars and restaurants to resume operations. 

The mandate that approved casinos reopening in Polish territory is limited until February 28, and enforces social distancing practices and enhanced health and safety protocols, including a reduced capacity with only one customer per 15 square meter, limited interaction between players and a minimum 5 feet spacing between clients. This regulation will be reassessed by the government, as containment measures are going to be re-evaluated in the whole country. 

There is no assurance that these venues will be allowed to remain open past this date, although, with the increase in vaccinations in the country, they are expected to. Polish casinos were closed on December 28, 2020 to comply with the countrywide quarantine imposed by the local government to stop the spread of Covid-19.

An important gaming market in Eastern Europe despite having one of the most restrictive gaming legislatures in Europe, Poland had a gambling revenue of almost €5 billion in 2020, an increase of almost 275% in comparison with the revenue in 2018, with STS Casino being the largest online casino in the country.

Century Casinos

Century Casinos, Inc. is a casino entertainment company from Colorado Springs, Colorado. The company owns and operates several brick-and-mortar casinos in the United States and Canada, and holds, through its Austrian subsidiary, a 66% ownership interest in Casinos Poland Ltd., which operates eight venues across Poland, in the markets of Warsaw, Wroclaw, Katowice, Bielsko-Biala, Krakow and Lodz, all of which were closed in December. 

In the same period, the operator was also forced to close its casinos and racetracks in Canada. A statement from the company said: “If the casinos are required to close again on February 28, the company will report such closures in its Form 10-K for the year ended 31 December 2020.”

Despite shutting down most of its operations in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Century Casinos reported an 81% year-on-year increase in net revenue in the third quarter of 2020, earning around US$95 million, with profits from operations reaching US$15 million, which represented a 331% rise from 2019. The Poland operating segment contributed to 4% of these earnings, and this figure is expected to rise in the coming years.

Poland’s gambling market

According to figures recently disclosed in a gambling market report, Poland has the potential to become one of the most relevant gambling markets in the world. With a revenue of almost €5 billion in 2020, it is currently the most lucrative market in Eastern Europe. Croatian gaming industry, in comparison, is worth around €350 million, while Russia, which represents a much bigger market, profited only €600 million.

Like many countries, Poland is going through an increase in the number of companies in the market as well as players, and after the amendments to the Gambling Act in 2017, the industry reported major growth in the following years. Despite having one of the most restrictive gambling regulations in the entire continent, Poland’s gaming industry rose from an estimated €110 million revenue in 2015, to an astonishing €1.82 billion in 2018, and finally €5 billion in 2020. A recent study published by the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health reported that 37% of adult Poles engaged in some form of gambling in a period of 12 months, with 4% making an online bet.

However, unlike several other EU countries, Poland includes online and land-based casinos and sportsbooks into its regulation structure, making Polish bettors more protected than in other countries. Additionally, many Polish casinos are owned by the state, as well as number games and cash lotteries.

According to Polish legal gaming association Graj Legalnie, Warsaw-based STS is the largest bookmaking company in the industry and in 2020 strengthened this position, taking 50% share of the regulated market. The association reported that STS was able to adapt to the new conditions imposed by the Polish government, and thrive in difficult market circumstances. Currently, the company is expanding to other European markets.

Writer: Mariana Botelho - the content is the entire responsibility of the author.