Polish slot hall surveillance regulations reveal missing monopoly details

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Poland’s Ministry of Finance is drafting a new ordinance that will establish an “audio-visual gaming control system” in its proposed state-backed slot machines outlets, and in the process has revealed previously unknown details about the government’s plans for the gaming machine sector.

The new ordinance requires the incoming slot halls to install cameras that record players at their outlets and then link into a system which can control the machines.

“In the case of slot machines, the cameras will cover each slot machine in a way that will allow control of the games performed at these machines and to retrieve the results of these games,” states a document accompanying the draft regulation.

“The scope of this gaming control system will also constitute an important element of the system of protecting the interests of gamblers and the state budget.”

Article 2 of the draft ordinance states that the “gaming control system is to be installed in [each] casino and slot machine outlet in a way that allows to visually register: 1) the registration of guests; 2) persons that enter the casino and the slot machine outlet; 3) the course of the games performed at slot machines”.

The ordinance is currently going through an inter-governmental consultation, which will run until August 8.

The legislation will replace the ministry’s regulations from April 6, 2012, which imposed a number of requirements on Poland-based casinos.

The country’s amended gambling law, which partly entered into force on April 1, 2017 and was fully implemented on July 1, imposed a state monopoly on operating slot machines outside casinos, alongside a divisive online blacklist.

These operations are to be taken over by a company under the auspices of the country’s national lottery operator Totalizator Sportowy, although, to date, no such entity has been established.

However, the details of this new ordinance suggest that the Ministry of Finance aims to accelerate the regulatory framework that will allow it to set up such a company, and in doing so direct a significant share of revenue from the country’s gambling market into the state budget.

The regulatory impact analysis (RIA) document that accompanies the draft regulation states that the ordinance is expected to exert power on the “company that will perform the state’s monopoly in the field of organising slot machine games at slot machine outlets”, but it will not have any additional impact on the ongoing activities of the six Poland-based casino operators.

These companies have been required to maintain gaming control systems of this kind at their venues since 2012.

According to earlier statements by representatives from Totalizator Sportowy, the new state-run gaming machine operator is to produce slot machines in cooperation with other state-owned companies.

The list of businesses involved includes Poland’s leading defence manufacturer, Polish Armaments Group (PGZ), which operates a number of production facilities, and state-run IT company Exatel, which is to provide the necessary know-how to the project.

A third company, Polish Security Printing Works (PWPW), is to be responsible for managing a digital customer register for the slot halls.

However, contrary to earlier announcements, Totalizator Sportowy did not present a prototype machine as planned during the second quarter of this year.

Under Article 1.4 of the 2017 gambling law, each outlet will offer between three and 50 slot machines. The law establishes a ratio of no more than one machine per 1,000 inhabitants of a given county, and taking into account Poland’s population of more than 38.4m, this would allow the state-owned company to operate a total of 38,400 machines across the country.

However, with a production capacity of about 1,000 slot machines per month by current estimates, it will be several years before the chosen companies will have any chance of serving the entire country.

Under the plan, investments will be financed from Totalizator Sportowy’s own funds, and the first outlets are to be launched in the fourth quarter of this year.

On a related note, a second ordinance recently drafted by the Ministry of Finance identifies the Tax Administration Chamber (TAC) in Szczecin, in north-western Poland, as the entity authorised to access the recordings from the audio-visual gaming control system that is to be operated by the new state-owned slot machine outlet chain.

This said, in the public consultation process on the draft ordinance, that the director of the TAC in Szczecin had submitted a statement in which he proposed to shift this responsibility from his institution to the Customs Tax Office (CTO) for the Western-Pomeranian region in Szczecin.

As a result of the ongoing reorganisation efforts, the unit specialised in gambling that is currently placed within the structure of the TAC in Szczecin will be located within the CTO in Szczecin, according to the letter.

Despite these suggestions, the draft ordinance has been submitted for signature by the finance minister.

Written by: Jarosław Adamowski

Source: Gambling Compiliance

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