At the request of the Prime Minister, the Ministry of Finance has published its annual report on the gambling law and how it is enforced.
The report provides information on the situation of Poland’s gambling market and the legislative and controlling measures taken by the government in order to regulate the market. It also contains information on the enforcement of the Gambling Act, especially in terms of the revenue generated from gambling taxes, the implementation of budget assumptions as well as an analysis of the behaviour of the gambling market and its reaction to changes in economic, legislative and social conditions.
The state of the gambling market at the end of 2014 and 2015 in terms of of casino games, gaming arcades, slot machines and betting points.
Slot machine arcades
The gambling law bans providing new permits for operating slot machine arcades, as well as extending old ones. Therefore, this part of the gaming market has seen a steady decline in terms of the number of gaming salons. As of December 31, 2015, there were six entities with valid permits for gaming salons.
Nine applications for a license to operate a casino were submitted in 2015, due to the publication of the expiry dates for previously issued licenses. From January 1 to December 31, 2015 the Minister of Finance granted one license to operate a casino. Two tender procedures, which were also being conducted at the time, were not concluded with concessions.
In 2015, the Ministry of Finance received nine authorization applications for the organization of betting games, including one application for an online business. Furthermore, after the repeal of the Supreme Administrative Court’s previous decision in 2015, the Minister of Finance was to reconsider one authorization request for operating bets online.
In addition, the Minister of Finance conducted fifteen application proceedings that were submitted and received for reconsideration in the previous years (including seven submitted electronically). The Minister granted four permits for mutual bets. In four cases, the Minister discontinued proceedings due to the entities withdrawing their requests. Thirteen cases remained unconcluded by the end of 2015.
The decrease in the number of existing betting shops in 2014 was caused by operators closing unprofitable shops, as well as certain steps made by the Minister to revoke authorizations on betting shops, totally or partially, as a punishment for shops failing to open within the dates specified in the permit, failure to operate for a period of time longer than 6 months or closure.
By the end of 2015, there were valid 27 permits for operating betting shops.
Due to the fact that poker tournaments may be organized in casinos, the minister responsible for public finances will also be allowed to grant permits for organizing such events, therefore becoming the concession-granting authority for their operation. Casinos operating within appropriate licenses may apply for a permit. In 2015, the Minister of Finance granted 15 permits for organizing poker tournaments and issued three refusals.
Gaming shops with low stake slot machines
The gambling law does not take into account issuing new authorizations or extending existing permits for operating low stake slot machines. Therefore, there has been a decrease in the number of low stake slot machine arcades, mainly as a result of gradually expiring licenses as well as permits being partially or totally withdrawn because of spotted inconsistencies.
The last two permits for low stake slot machines had expired by December 2015, compared to 98 permits in force as of December 31, 2014. All licenses for low stake slot machine games had expired by the end of 2015.
During the same period, the directors of customs chambers, gave a total of 138 decisions revoking licenses for organizing activities in the field of low stake slot machine games.
The most important reasons for revoking licenses were, among others:
– proof that low stake machines let you play for higher stakes or at higher rates than permitted by the Gambling Act
– closure or failure to operate within the license for a period longer than six months,
– certain entities never began operating low stake slot machines,
– gross violations of certain conditions for performing the activity for which the license was granted (gaming tax arrears)
– negative results of tests made by audit entities on the machines.
The number of operating entities and gaming centers
The number of players and game centres operating between 2014 – 2015 is shown in the table below.
The data presented in the table applies to all entities operating in the reporting period, even if their activities began during the reporting period or ended before the end of the reporting period, ie. before the end of the year.
*Data on slot machines as of December 31, 2015
The number of gaming machines used in casinos, game arcades and gaming shops with low-stake slot machines from 2014-2015, shown in the table below.
The number of slot machines operating in casinos, gaming arcades and low stakes slot machine gaming points.
*The table shows the number of slot machines operating at the end of the period.
PROCEEDS TO THE STATE BUDGET
Revenues from gaming taxes
In 2015, the state budget revenues were predicted to gain 1 250 000 000 PLN from gambling taxes. The tax revenue turned out to be 1 337 125 000 PLN, ie. 87 125 000 PLN, or 7% more, than was forecast. The revenue was 102 407 000 PLN, or 8.3% higher than in 2014.
Tax bases for various games
The tax bases for gaming arcades and low stake slot machines decreased by 106 632 000 PLN, i.e. by 54.4%, and by 3 397 units, i.e. by 90% in 2015.
Amount of tax paid on various games of chance*
Estimates of the amounts owed (as declared by the taxpayers) from game taxes (excluding poker played in the form of poker tournaments) in 2015, amounted to 1 330 682 000 PLN and were 200 838 000 PLN, i.e. by 17.8% lower than the amounts declared in 2014.
These decreases are the result of solutions adopted on the basis of the law of November 19, 2009 on gambling businesses operating gaming machines and low prize slot machines. The available data shows that compared to 2014, both the number of legal low-stake slot machine shops and the number of gaming arcades had decreased in 2015, which resulted in a decrease in gaming tax revenues, compared to the previous year.
Supervision and control of activities specified by the gambling act
In 2015, the Customs Service conducted 430 inspections of gambling operators, i.e. about 646 fewer inspections than in 2014. The decrease in inspections is the result of many gaming arcades shutting down and all permits for operating low-stake slot machines expiring.
The 114 inspections conducted by the Customs Service in 2015 brought to light various inconsistencies, which indicates that the effectiveness of these inspections was 26.5%.
The number of inspections conducted by the Customs Service on games operated the legal and illegal gambling market is shown in the table below.
Low-stake slot machine arcades
In 2015, a total of 63 inspections were conducted on low prize slot machines. 54 of those inspections revealed inconsistencies and misconduct. The revealed inconsistencies concerned in particular:
– applying higher rates per game and winnings than permitted by the Gambling Act;
– inconsistencies in official inspections;
– lack of a supplementary opinion from an audit entity.
In all cases, the disclosure of irregularities initiated criminal proceedings.
In 2015, 87 inspections were conducted in 50 casinos (compared to 116 inspections in 2014).
8 inspections revealed inconsistencies. The inconsistencies did not affect the level of tax on the games.
Slot machine arcades
In 2015, 32 inspections carried out in gambling arcades revealed one inconsistency involving sloppy record keeping.
Treasury checks carried out in the gambling market
In 2015, the treasury control conducted five inspections of entities engaged in gambling, as well as of technicians working for low stake slot machine operators.
Five entities were inspected, including:
– Three entities operating low stake slot machines,
– Two service technicians working with the entities mentioned above.
The inspections checked whether the declared tax bases were correct, whether the taxes (which constitute the state budget revenue) were being calculated and paid correctly. They also investigated other taxes due between 2006 and 2011. The tax depletions for inspections carried out in 2015, are as follows:
– for companies operating low stake slot machines: CIT – 2464 00. PLN, excise tax – 429 00 PLN,
– for service companies: VAT – 592 00 PLN, PIT – 532 00 PLN.
In 2015, the Customs Service conducted intensive inspections on the low stake slot machine operators functioning without the required permit. They seized 30,248 machines.
In terms of illegal activity, certain companies continued to unlawfully operate low stake machines, operating illegal games using electronic media or game simulators and operating games of chance without a license for traditional (classic) machines.
The table below shows the number of devices confiscated in reference to legal proceedings concerning tax evasion.
The first area of illegal slot machine activity is the operation of illegal games using electronic media. In 2015, during the inspection of betting shops and other outlets where illegal games had been organized, the Customs Service seized 393 machines.
The second area of illegal slot machine gaming covered holding illegal games with the use of simulators. These are gambling machines in which payments are made from outside of the device, ex. by the bartender or other staff. In order to pretend their actions are legal, those in charge of arcade simulators place disclaimers on the device, informing players that the simulator is to be used solely for fun, not for gambling.
Traditional (classic) slot machines
The third area of illegal games on slot machines covers holding such games using traditional (classic) slot machines, which can be used to win cash or a prize (the payment is made by the machine).
In 2015, during the inspection of gambling shops and other outlets where illegal slot machine games took place, the Customs Service seized 29,855 slot machines.
Advertising and promotion of online gambling
In 2015, the Customs Service removed or prevented access to illegal gambling content on 668 internet domains. In 88 cases, criminal proceedings were initiated, 38 of which have been concluded with the perpetrators being punished with a total amount of 75 000 PLN in fines, while 3 cases were concluded with indictments for a total of over 3 000 PLN in fines.
Actions taken against players involved in illegal online gambling
3,593 proceedings were initiated in relation to persons who participated in foreign gambling in 2015. Charges were pressed in 695 cases.
The courts gave convictions in 345 cases for a total amount of 610,610 PLN in fines. The five perpetrators who voluntarily submitted to payment were punished with a total of 12.850 PLN in fines.
Fiscal offenses against the organization of gambling
In 2015, courts fined perpetrators in 617 cases of fiscal offences for an amount of 1,517,424 PLN. In cases resolved through fine proceedings, penalty notices orders of 117 350 PLN were imposed on perpetrators in 123 cases. The perpetrators were fined for a total of 1,634,774 PLN in 740 cases of inconsistencies.
There was a significant increase in the number of criminal cases in the area of gaming and betting, which rose by almost 100%. This applies mainly to slot machines.
Operating slot machines without a license
In 2015, the Customs Service permanently closed down 3.642 shops, where slot machines were run without permission. These places are being monitored by the Customs Service in order to prevent or reduce the chances of their reopening. Other actions aiming to clamp down on illegal slot machine games include:
– creating an electronic map of illegal gaming machines,
– controlling socially sensitive and/or visible locations, especially in city centres, markets, shopping arcades and malls, along major transport routes, as well as nearby educational institutions, medical institutions and places of worship,
– observing and recording public places using technical means,
– providing information on illegal gambling machines on petrol stations to major oil companies and companies involved in network fuel sales (Orlen, BP, Shell, Lotus, etc.)
– informing the tax authorities about bribes taken by identified entities from conducting illegal activities in the field of gambling,
– local media coverage on the risks of gambling (also in relation to minors), initiation of anti-gambling campaigns.
The situation on the low stakes slot machine market in terms of quantity.
The number of available low stake slot machines decreased after the Gambling Act came into force. This caused a decline of expected revenues in this segment.
The table below presents the number of machines operating without licenses confiscated during inspections (for graphic interpretation see chart below)
edited by E-PLAY