Century Casinos has just received its eighth license in Poland – this one is for its Casinos Poland subsidiary.
Century Casinos has been investing heavily in the Polish market and this looks set to continue as it has now received yet another casino license. This will be its eighth license in the nation, and it is the company’s Casinos Poland subsidiary that has been given the go-ahead.
Gambling industry in Poland
While Poland was under communist rule for many years, in the last few decades it has been freed from these shackles and has become a democracy. In 2004, Poland joined the European Union and it hasn’t looked back as a nation since. However, there have been some issues with the county’s gambling sector, which have led to criticisms of its laws, both from its citizens and from the European Commission.
Poland had a loose attitude toward gambling for most of the 1980s and 1990s, with most of the sector being unregulated. In 1992, gambling legislation imposed slightly stricter rules on opening new casinos, whereby new casinos could only be opened in cities with a population of 250,000 or more.
Online gambling was treated the same way until 2009 when a scandal involving the sports minister exposed a pro-gambling lobby that was potentially corrupt. This led to a campaign by the then prime minister, Donald Tusk, to crack down on the sector.
Strict laws passed in 2009 and 2011 saw all non-sports betting online gambling made illegal. Poland has a lucrative online gambling market, which is said to be worth around $1bn (£760m) every year.
While a significant amount of leeway had been given since the introduction of tighter regulations, a lot of companies continued to offer online gambling services that were deemed illegal in the jurisdiction.
This led to the introduction in April 2017 of new regulatory restrictions which saw the authorities blocking the payment facilities and web domains of online operators that didn’t hold a gaming license in the country. As a result, numerous high-profile gambling operators, such as William Hill and Bet365, closed down their Polish operations.
The authorities have been actively enforcing these measures ever since.
Century Casinos licenses
While the gambling sector in Poland continues to be closely regulated, another casino license has been awarded to the US-based Century Casinos.
This is the eighth license of its kind that Century Casinos has received. This latest license is for the company’s subsidiary, Casinos Poland, which it owns a 66.6% stake in. In addition to three different Casino Poland licenses in Warsaw, the Polish capital, the company also has licenses in Lodz, Krakow, Bielsko-Biala, Katowice, and Wroclaw.
The Krakow casino only opened at the start of July, which made it the company’s sixth Polish license to come into operation. Its third Warsaw casino and the Lodz casino are set to open this coming August.
The temporary closure of some of its casinos led to the company issuing a profit warning at the start of July. Between summer 2017 and summer 2018 a few of its licenses expired, and the reapplication process took longer than expected.
This naturally means that the company’s revenues are going to be down for the periods the casinos in question are forced to close their operations until they receive the approval for their license renewal. They will still have to keep their staff on the payroll and pay the lease for their premises during this period, despite having no revenue coming in.
The Polish market is a heavy focus for Century Casinos, with its Polish operations accounting for 43% of its total revenue in the first quarter of 2018 – the operating revenue for Casino Poland during this period was $16m (£12m).
Talking about the forecasted increases in reported revenues, the co-CEO and president of the company said: “We are really happy with the strength and performance of the existing operations. And in about August or September, the relicensing round would be over and done with, and normal EBITDA margins will kick in again.”
Century Casinos also has a presence in the US state of Colorado, in Edmonton and Calgary in Canada, at Bath in England; and on 13 different cruise ships. In April, its Austrian subsidiary acquired a controlling stake in Golden Hospitality, which is based in Hong Kong and also has a gaming room in Vietnam.