[Poland] Work on gambling law to be extended

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The Ministry of Finance informed the press that Malta has given a detailed opinion on the planned amendment to the Polish Gambling Act as part of the European Commission notification process.

As a result, the suspension of the legislative work on this project has been postponed to November 30, said the ministry. The original term was October 31.

The Ministry of Finance informed the press on Tuesday that, ‘the amendment to the Gambling Act was submitted to the European Commission on 07.29.2016 as part of the notification procedure, and the European Commission has set a standstill period for the 31.10. 2016.’

Because of the opinion given by Malta, the deadline has been extended by another month, to 30.11.2016. At the moment, the Ministry is preparing a response to the detailed opinion submitted by Malta, as well as to the European Commission’s comments.

The first reading of the government’s amendment to the Gambling Act was held in Parliament in September. The Parliamentary Committee for Public Finances appointed a subcommittee consisting of nine people to handle the draft. The Law and Justice party gained five seats in the subcommittee, Civic Platform gained two seats, while Kukiz’15 and Nowoczesna got one each. MP Maria Zuba MP (Law and Justice) was elected chairperson of the subcommittee.

The aim of the project is to protect the players from the negative effects of gambling and to clamp down on informal business, said Deputy Finance Minister Wieslaw Jańczyk in Parliament.

The project drastically changes the 2009 Gambling Act. It also introduces a strong state monopoly over slot machines. Under the current Polish law, adopted after the outbreak of the so-called gambling scandal in the autumn of 2009, operating video lotteries and slot machines outside casinos are prohibited.

The document extends the number of legal games, for example allowing poker games to be played outside casinos. Meanwhile, the majority of games will be covered by a state monopoly so that ‘players will feel safe’.

The project states that it will be possible to operate slot machines outside casinos, but only in arcades run by the state treasury.

The new aims to reduce informal gambling, ‘especially slot machines games and online gambling’, Jańczyk stressed. Online gambling will be covered by a state monopoly, with the exception of betting and promotional lotteries.

The project provides the ability to block illegal websites and ‘to obstruct payments to entities offering illegal online games’, said the deputy head of the Ministry of Finance. The head of the Ministry is also to keep a  register of domains which offer games that violate the law. Upon entering such a domain, users will immediately be redirected to the Ministry of Finance website and will be informed that the domain is illegal.

It will be possible to oppose an entry to the registry. The procedure will be subject to judicial control. Links offering quick payments will also be removed from illegal websites.

‘Players will be able to verify if the page is legal’, stressed the Deputy Minister of Finance.

The draft also introduces age verification and obligatory registration. Players will be able to control their activity. Jańczyk argued that these measures aim to protect minors and people who are easily addicted.

Unauthorized entities will be forbidden from owning slot machines. The project foresees the increase in penalties for not having a license from 12 000 PLN to 100 000 PLN per machine.

‘The Finance Ministry expects the amendment to earn the state budget 1.5 billion PLN per year’, said Jańczyk.

The act is due to come into force on January 1, 2017, with a three month period to comply with its requirements.


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