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UOKiK forces PZPN to change fee for use of football match results

LAWUOKiK forces PZPN to change fee for use of football match results

Despite the fact that the PZPN – the Polish Football Association – changed the method and amount of the fee for using the results of football matches after the intervention of betting companies in UOKiK, the fee is still too high according to the operators – “The fees are significantly overpriced and not equivalent to the economic value of the services provided by the PZPN to bookmakers,” says Zdzisław Kostrubała, President of the Play Legally Association. He points out, however, that the industry appreciates the actions of the UOKiK, thanks to which the years-long battle managed to partially reduce the fees paid by bookmakers, yet they still remain significantly higher than the rates used in comparable markets.

In April 2019, the President of the UOKiK initiated an explanatory procedure after receiving signals from bookmakers concerning the activities of the Polish Football Association and Ekstraklasa S.A. The information obtained indicated that the association was charging betting companies a fixed fee of 0.5 percent of total gross revenues for providing sports competition results. The fact that the fee was set based on the total revenue of the betting company, regardless of whether it was generated by competitions organised by the PZPN and Ekstraklasa, or other events, was problematic. Such a practice could have been considered as an abuse of market position by the Polish Football Association and Ekstraklasa SA.

The basis of the new accounting model is the bookmakers’ revenues generated solely from bets on Polish football teams’ matches. In addition, the association has reduced the rates it charges. The first agreement under the new terms was signed by STS at the end of 2022. Since then, the PZPN has begun changing the accounting model with other bookmakers. The actions of the President of the UOKiK should be a warning to other national organisers who intend to use their position to impose onerous fees on bookmakers. While the actions of the President of the UOKiK should be evaluated positively as they led to a partial change in PZPN’s practices, we still face the lack of economic justification and legal basis for charging such exaggerated fees says Zdzisław Kostrubała, President of the Play Legally Association representing legal betting companies.

According to antitrust law, an entity that holds a dominant position in a certain market cannot use it to the detriment of its competitors, counterparts or consumers. Abuse of a dominant position may consist, for example, of imposing burdensome contract conditions that bring unjustified benefits to the dominant entity or applying unfair prices.

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