At its last session, i.e. on 26.02.2021, the Sejm – lower house of Polish parliament passed an amendment to the Customs Law, which includes amendments to the Gambling Act (hereinafter: the “Act”).
Work on the Act has not yet been completed. On the same day the act was passed to the President and the Speaker of the Senate. The Senate will consider the Act at its next session.
Below is an overview of the most important changes that may be made to the Gambling Act.
Amendment of Article 6a (6) of the Act.
Pursuant to the amended provision, an entity organising a poker tournament on the basis of a concession granted for the operation of a gaming casino shall be obliged to submit to the competent authority, in paper form or electronically by means of electronic communication, detailed information on the persons who have won in the tournament, including their names, surnames, the amount of the entry fee for participation in the tournament and information on the amount of the winnings obtained, as well as on the settlement of gaming tax.
Comment: the amendment aims to increase the possibilities of conducting gambling cases electronically and clarifies what information on individuals is to be provided to the authorities. The amendment is of a procedural nature.
Amendments to Article 15, inter alia repeal of Article 15 (1a)(2) of the Act.
The changes to Article 15 of the Gambling Act are aimed at removing barriers to the location of legal gaming premises for slot machines. Under the provisions still in force, a licensed gaming hall may not be set up in a place where in the past 5 years it has been found that games on slot machines contrary to the Act have been organised.
The amendment provides for the repeal of this provision, thus increasing the supply of attractive locations for a company exercising a state monopoly.
Comment: this change has no practical significance for the industry.
Amendment of Article 15b (3) of the Act.
The amendment aims to reduce the retention of audiovisual signal recording in slot machine arcades from 3 years to 12 months. The 3-year period is retained for casinos.
Comment: this change has no practical significance for the industry.
Amendment of Article 15f(4)(6), and (9) of the Act.
This is one of the most significant changes introduced by the proposed amendment, it aims to change the prerequisites for entry into the register of domains used to offer gambling games contrary to the Act (hereinafter: “the Registry”) and to accelerate the process of submitting domain names to the Registry for approval.
Assuming that the proposed amendment enters into force unchanged, not only will the names of Internet domains used to organise gambling contrary to the provisions of the Act be entered in the Register, but also the names of domains used to advertise or promote unlawful gambling available to Internet users located in the territory of the Republic of Poland.
Thus, the Register will also include websites that serve to advertise and promote online casinos and gambling games that are not operated in compliance with Polish law, in particular affiliate websites.
The new regulations also provide for changes in the approval of entries or changes in the Register. Until now, any such change had to be approved by the competent minister for public finance or a secretary of state or undersecretary of state in the office serving the minister for public finance authorised by the minister. According to the text of the act passed by the Sejm, entries or changes in the Register will be able to be made by the competent minister for public finance or a National Fiscal Administration body appointed by him. The purpose of this solution is to enable the minister of public finance to appoint a competent National Fiscal Administration body to approve an entry, change, or deletion in the Register. According to the justification presented for the draft, the proposed change is designed to optimise the procedure for entry into the Register and thus accelerate it. At the same time, according to the proposed amendment to Article 15f Section 9, the deadline for considering objections is to be extended to 14 days.
Comment: If the amendment is passed in such a form, the decision on an entry, changes, deletion from the Registry will be made by a lower-level official appointed within the National Fiscal Administration structure. The process of entry itself will probably be accelerated, which is aimed, among others, at combating the so-called clones of domains already entered in the Registry.
The Register is to include websites that advertise and promote gambling, but as the interpretation of the provisions of the Act regulating permitted advertising and promotion is not always clear and transparent, problems are likely to arise and mistakes may be made in decisions on entry to the Register. Entrepreneurs will have the right to file an objection and prove that an entry in the Register is groundless.
It should also be noted that according to the new proposal of Article 15f, paragraph 4, domains available to Internet users located in the territory of the Republic of Poland shall be entered in the Register. According to the current regulations, in order to register a domain, it is necessary to prove that it is directed to service users in the territory of the Republic of Poland, especially when a website using domain names is: available in the Polish language, advertised in the territory of the Republic of Poland. After the amendment, if the proposed change is not changed, the “availability” of the domain to users located in Poland will be sufficient. Such a change will certainly increase the automaticity of the decision on registration in the Registry.
Amendment of Article 90 and Article 90a of the Act.
The current regulations of the Act provide that fines for:
A telecommunications undertaking that failed to comply with the obligations resulting from Art. 15f, paragraph 5 of the Act, i.e. in particular the obligation to prevent access to websites using Internet domain names entered in the Register free of charge by removing them from IT systems; as well as the obligation to redirect, free of charge, connections referring to Internet domain names entered in the Register to the website maintained by the minister competent for public finance; and
a payment service provider who does not comply with the prohibition referred to in Article 15g of the Act, i.e. the prohibition to make payment services available on websites using domain names entered in the Register; shall be imposed by the minister responsible for public finance.
After the entry into force of the amendment, the body imposing a fine will be the head of the customs and tax office competent for conducting audit activities.
Comment: also in this case, the burden of handling the case is shifted from the central level to a lower level, which, according to the authors of the amendment, is supposed to have a positive impact on the improvement of the mechanisms provided for in the Act. However, practice will show whether such decentralization will not increase the number of incorrectly issued decisions.
Further legislative process.
Work on the amending act has not been completed. The content of the act has been submitted to the Senate, which may file amendments to the draft, in which case the draft will be returned for consideration by the Sejm, which may reject the Senate’s amendments. The final stage is the signing of the bill by the President.
Autor – Ewa Lejman-Widz