POLAND

Poland – Where did PLN 21 bln worth of losses on gambling come from?

According to the prosecutor’s office, the losses of the state treasury on illegally-wielding one-armed bandits amounted to PLN 21 billion. The former deputy finance minister Jacek Kapica was to be negligent.

Official explanations of the prosecutor’s office sound like this: negligence occurred in 2008-15 and it is associated with the registration of slot machines with low prizes, so-called one-armed bandits.

These machines were supposed to allow for high stakes games, although only a few dozens zlotys were allowed in accordance with the law. The losses on this account are incurred by the state treasury – users of gaming machines paid a monthly lump sum in amounts from 80 to 180 euros, while they were obliged to pay a tax of 45% form revenues – said the national prosecutor Bogdan Święczkowski.

As a result, as calculated by the prosecutor’s office, there was a “failure to perform professional duties in order to obtain financial benefits for other people, in the total amount of over PLN 21 billion”.

In fact, it is not entirely clear whether these 21 billion zlotys would be losses of the state treasury, or the profits of machines owners – one of the officials working on regulating gambling throws up his hands. – Anyway, the sum is huge and it is hard for me to find a justification for it in what the Polish gambling market looks like – he adds.

14 billion for 10 years

Even adding taxation to the entire market (slot machines in arcades, “one-armed bandits”, casinos, lotteries, bookmakers and online gambling), the budget received from PLN 1.24 to 1.57 billion annually. Which in a scale of 10 years gave a little over PLN 14 billion.

At that time, the first major increase in revenues from slot machine games was recorded in 2010, which is after the entry into force of the gambling law from the PO’s time. At that time, revenues from gaming halls grew from PLN 3.23 billion in 2009 to PLN 3.78 billion, and arcades paid 240 and 295 million of them.

However, the more interesting situation was in the points with “one-armed bandits”. Although their income dropped from 11.5 billion to 7.65 billion (according to the Act, concessions for machines began to expire), the tax that was paid of them increased from PLN 487 to 525 million. A lump sum from each machine has increased from 180 euros to PLN 2000 monthly.

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