Polish customs service disorganization fails to keep gambling in-check
The Polish Customs Service is allegedly failing to efficiently control slot machines, citing time constraints and lack of personnel.
“The Ministry of Finance assures that it is coping with supervision,” Polish business daily Puls Biznesu reported, June 11. “Documents from inside the Customs Service indicate otherwise.”
A Customs Service report published in April indicated that only two out of 36 offices completed their responsibilities on time. The report concerned the services’ cooperation with the Appellate Prosecutor’s Office in Bialystok, as part of an ongoing large-scale investigation into gambling.
One of Poland’s leading bookmakers and lottery provider, Totolotek, was also scrutinized in the report. The company continued operating despite not having a valid gambling license between April and September 2012. During the first two months of this period, customs inspected only five of Totolotek’s 392 potentially illegal gambling locations, completing 292 inspections in six months. Only 79 cases led to criminal charges.
Legislation to eradicate slot machines – the services’ main objective – was passed in 2009. This followed a gambling scandal, which saw prominent politicians lobbying for the exclusion of slot machines from a 10 percent increase in gambling taxes.
Machines of this type become illegal when their licenses expire, but monitoring this is proving ineffective. Despite the value of the gambling sector falling by PLN 6 billion in 2012, compared to the peak of PLN 20.3 billion in 2009, one-armed bandits in pubs and petrol stations still account for a third of current income.
The Ministry of Finance maintains that the situation is far from dire, with the number of confiscations increasing, although it admits that a more unified system is required.