[Poland] Gambling industry counts on Act block

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According to lawyers, the draft of the new gambling Act should be submitted to World Trade Organization for notification.

According to a legal opinion issued by Szostek_Bar & Partners law firm, the draft of the new gambling act should be submitted to the World Trade Organization for notification. The lawyers point to the technical regulations in the project which establish limits for international trade. Failure to notify under the TBT agreement will open the possibility of initiating proceedings before the WTO – emphasizes Stanisław Matuszewski, president of the Commercial Chamber of Producers and Operators of Amusement Equipment, who offered their legal opinion to Minister of Finance Mateusz Morawiecki. The parliament is already working on an amendment despite not having acquired a notification from the European Commission.

However, deputy Minister of Finance Wiesław Jańczyk argued in mid-October that the European Commission has no objections to the project. Jańczyk assured that the law will be notified by the EC by the end of October. For the time being Brussels has not yet issued a notification.

The new law is going to give the government a monopoly on organizing slot machine games, which will be handled by a company belonging to the Treasury. According to the project, the entity in charge of gaming machines in arcades and online will be required to implement a responsible gaming policy, under which the players’ age will be checked and transactions for online games will have to be carried through payment accounts. Online betting operators will not be allowed to place advertisements for financial services on the sides of these games or offer these services themselves.

However, according to lawyers, the government bill on gambling contains “technical regulations” that require a notification procedure in the World Trade Organization. Experts point out that the project’s “technical regulations” could potentially have a significant impact on trade between affiliated nations through discrimination against foreign manufacturers and distributors of slot machines. In addition, they point to a significant consulting transition period for the introduction of the new regulations that are already at an early stage of legislative work. Until now, the Polish government did not report the bill to be notified in the World Trade Organization. “Failure to notify under the TBT Agreement, especially considering it as a regulation blocking international trade opens the possibility of initiating proceedings against the Republic of Poland before the WTO by an entity belonging to the Organization,” emphasized Stanisław Matuszewski in a letter to Minister of Finance Mateusz Morawiecki.

Matuszewski pointed out that “the lack of notification was not justified by an urgent proceeding. Both the legal environment and the market situation do not justify such urgency.” In addition, a legal analysis showed that the draft of the new gambling act  violates of the principle of necessity for achieving the declared objective. “The fact that the originator of the draft wants to introduce a state monopoly in certain sectors of the gaming market while significantly increasing the availability of slot machines, citing the need to protect society from the negative effects of gambling, raises particular concerns.”

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