STS and Fortuna launch ‘Play Legally’ campaign against Polish grey market

STS and Fortuna launch ‘Play Legally’ campaign against Polish grey market

STS and Fortuna, two of Poland’s largest licenced bookmakers, have announced a new marketing campaign to draw consumers away from ‘grey market’ operators, ‘Play Legally’.

The duo will give up branding space on team uniforms and pitch side LED screens in top-flight PKO Bank Polski Ekstraklasa fixtures between 12-15 May to promote the new slogan.

Describing ‘Play Legally’ as a ‘pioneering’ initiative, the operators plan to place STS-sponsored Lech Poznań and Fortuna-sponsored Legia Warszawa and Miedź Legnicam at the forefront of the campaign, placing the message on the clubs’ shirts to temporarily replace existing branding.

The remaining teams of Jagiellonia Białystok, Widzew Łódź, Zagłębie Lubin – sponsored by STS – and Radomiak – sponsored by Fortuna – will wear armbands over their sleeve sponsorships showing the slogan.

Mateusz Juroszek, President of STS S.A, said: “By organising a joint campaign, we want to once again draw attention to what a huge problem for all bookmaking companies legally operating in Poland is the grey market, which is growing year by year. 

“Of course, we notice and appreciate the government’s actions against companies that operate in Poland without a licence, but we still assess them as definitely insufficient. 

“The legal part of the industry has been calling for years for stronger measures to be introduced against companies operating outside Polish law, including more effective blocking of illegal websites and payments to them.” 

A second element of the campaign plan will see players from all participating teams wear ‘special jerseys’ featuring the message during the pre-match warm-up, whilst LED advertising boards will also display the slogan.

On a wider scale, LED screens during matches in the second-tier Fortuna 1 Liga will display the message, as well as during the play-off phase matches of the Polish Volleyball League, which STS sponsors.

Konrad Komarczuk, President of Fortuna, remarked: “While the 2017 amendment to the Gambling Law has clearly improved the situation in the sector, the problem of the grey market has still not been resolved. What is more, the grey market is growing nominally all the time. 

“We believe that a more liberal nature of legal regulations, similar to those in most European Union countries, would result in a dynamic development of the bookmaking market in Poland. 

“This, in turn, would be associated with increased revenues for both legal operators and the state budget or sports entities supported by bookmaking companies with millions of dollars each year under sponsorship agreements.” 

Explaining the rationale behind the campaign, STS and Fortuna cited EY Poland figures estimating grey market firms to account for 45% of the nationwide Polish sports betting and gaming sector.

The pair further argue that grey market turnover amounted to PLN 7.6bn (€1.7m) in 2021, a huge increase from PLN 4bn (€882,000) in 2018, with lost government taxation revenue over this three-year period estimated at around PLN 379m (€83.6m) as a result. 

According to Polish market figures published last year, STS and Fortuna are the market leaders in the country, recording 2021 revenue of PLN 153.3m (€32.6m) and PLN 31.9m (€6.8m) respectively.

As well as initiating the new campaign, STS and Fortuna have called for the government to adopt new measures to counter the apparent grey market threat, notably arguing for a reduction in taxation from the current rate of 12%.

The tax rate ‘encourages players to use unlicensed operators’, STS and Fortuna asserted, adding that dominant blocking measures also require enhancement as illegal operators can currently resume activity ‘the day after its domain is blocked’.

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