The Ministry of Finance has drafted new regulations that diminish the role of testing houses to settle a public spat with slots companies seeking to operate outside the state monopoly.
According to the new rules, locally certified testing houses can no longer make a judgement on whether or not slots offered to Polish businesses use randomness or not, and therefore whether or not they comply with the provisions of the country’s gambling law that relate to it.
The amended draft ordinance states that technical opinions offered by testing companies will “not rule on the character of games offered with the use of an evaluated slot or device”, and it will instead be left to the finance ministry to classify specific gambling devices.
The amendments come in response to the rising popularity of slot machines in Polish restaurants and bars, seemingly in contravention of the state’s monopoly over non-casino slots.
Operators had been touting technical opinions which say that the machines do not include random elements, arguing that this placed them outside the scope of the monopoly.
In recent months, despite authorities claiming that the operators of these skill-based machines were breaking the law, Polish courts have issued rulings in favour of the devices’ owners, even ordering authorities to return slots that had been seized by customs officers.
A statement from the National Revenue Administration released earlier this year attempted to dissuade business owners from hosting non-random slots by claiming that, under Polish law, slots cannot be operated outside casinos and state-owned slot halls.
“We wish to warn about situations in which entrepreneurs, for instance those who run restaurants, are offered slots to install in their outlets. They are presented with an opinion issued by a testing house authorised by the minister of finance as the legal basis for such use. Obtaining an opinion of a testing house … does not guarantee the legality of its operation outside of casinos and slot halls.”
– said the authority.
Statements such as these have not helped the government win in court. Instead, by preventing certified testing houses from issuing opinions on the devices’ randomness, the finance ministry hopes it can win by changing the rules of the game.
On August 21, the draft ordinance was submitted for an inter-governmental consultation.
Ministries and government agencies can submit their potential remarks on the regulation within a ten-day period following reception of the document. Once the ordinance is signed by the finance minister, the new rules will enter into force 14 days following its publication in the country’s official journal.
Currently, eight such testing houses operate in the Polish market, according to data from the regulatory impact analysis document that accompanies the draft ordinance.
The ministry’s statement identified one of the slot brands pitching for clients in Poland, Futura by the Czech Republic’s Yumicra Games, and claimed that “operating slots (such as e.g. Futura) outside casinos and slot halls … can put entrepreneurs at risk of legal consequences”.
Despite the ministry’s claims, Yumicra Games said in a statement it is “the first company in Poland to obtain the state certificate confirming that their products meet legal requirements. The body officially representing the Ministry of Finance’s position, found, after an in-depth analysis of the Futura machines, that their software contains no randomness.”