This covers online betting as well as ‘small win' machines and will therefore see the removal of around 500,000 slots from bars, cafes, gas stations and shopping malls across the EU State.
The new arrangements will be phased in gradually, alongside other restrictions, such as a ban on gambling advertizing and video lotteries. On top of these changes, a strict ‘over eighteens' policy will also be enforced in a crackdown on youth gambling. The industry is also bracing itself for a hike in tax on slot machines and land based casinos, which is due imminently.
The legislation comes hot on the wheels of a political scandal involving prominent members of government, who were accused of supporting pro gambling legislation in exchange for political favors. Prime Minister Donald Task forced several ministers to resign in an effort to placate government criticism.
Grzegorz Makowski, an analyst at Warsaw's Institute of Public Affairs, feels Tusk's sudden shift from the recent gambling scandal to bringing in legislation tackling slot machines and under-age gaming, could well be seen as deflecting attention away from governmental flaws. "Tusk hasn't engaged himself in the scandal. He got rid of those closest to the scandal, but there wasn't a thorough cleaning up of his entire party," Makowski said. "He covered the problem of corruption with the problem of gambling."
Gambling has become a growing industry in Poland, with an increasing amount being wagered year on year. Task has stated that the restrictions on gambling have been designed to address growing social issues. "It is not increasing revenues from gambling that is the key issue here, but counteracting its negative effects, such as addictions, especially among youngsters, and the mixing of the legal and criminal spheres in this industry," explained the Prime Minister.
Criticism of Tusk's policy range from a disbelief that online gambling can actually be addressed in any meaningful way, to skepticism over this legislation being an anti-corruption measure. In a country plagued by corruption scandals, many feel the government needs to get its own house in order before looking further afield.