Huge scandal under Minister’s authority?

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A meeting of the public finance subcommittee for investigating the government’s gambling amendment took place on December 8, 2016.  There would be nothing worrying about this if not for the crude way in which it is being enforced.

Using a smokescreen of fictional data about Poland’s ‘gambling problem’, the government wants to deprive Poland of billions of PLN by monopolising the market and giving the controversial American company IGT (formerly G-tech), influence over it.

A show for dumb viewers

From the very beginning, the committee’s work has been a farce. During the session on December 8, the chairwoman of the subcommittee immediately decided that voting on specific amendments would only happen after a government official voiced their opinion. This reduced the role of the experts present in the room to that of dumb spectators. These people, who have been gathering experience in a specific trade for decades, take part in the subcommittee’s deliberation in order to support the Parliament’s decision-making process. The subcommittee, created as a forum for discussion, has been reduced to the role of a government notary. This means it is much harder to contradict the false information spread by the government.

Minister Janczyk’s lies

Article 14 of the amendment to the Gambling Act forbids the use of slot machines outside casinos. This law does not apply to the state monopolist. If not for the limitations set on private entities, the monopoly simply would not exist. Minister Janczyk, the so called father of the amendment, not only ignores the fact that the amendment contradicts EU law but also misleads MPs, claiming that the European Commission does not have any reservations whatsoever ti the amendment.

But what is the truth?

Our team managed to access the real opinion given by the European Commission, which clearly states that the private sector ban mentioned in article 14 ‘undoubtedly limits the flow of goods’ if it is not proportional.

This lack of proportion was already pointed out by the Polish Administrative Court. Both the Administrative court and the EC have ruled against Minister Jańczyk. The Minister himself maintains that he is right. No one really knows what he means.

It is worth stressing that the EC’s reservations must have been important enough for it to rule that the new amendment is contrary to the law. In this light and without taking too much time to decide, Polish courts will continue giving thousands of judgments in favor of businessmen, just like they have in the previous years.

To summarise – the minister’s project pushes the aforementioned entities into a lawless but still legal zone for another 7 years. In theory, the ban is completely unreasonable. But that’s just in theory. Why enforce a ban that you already know will be ineffective?

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