Polish Health Agency Proposes Raising Gambling Age

November 7, 2023
A state-run Polish addiction charity is pushing the incoming national government to increase the minimum gambling age to 21 and introduce Finnish-style gambling limits, among a host of other changes.

A state-run Polish addiction charity is pushing the incoming national government to increase the minimum gambling age to 21 and introduce Finnish-style gambling limits, among a host of other changes.

Poland’s National Centre for Prevention of Addictions (KCPU) has released a report with its recommendations for amending the country’s gambling regulations. 

Poland’s opposition parties won the recent general election and are expected to form a new government by the end of this year, leading to renewed lobbying from gambling stakeholders amid hopes the new regime will be willing to amend one of the flagship legislations of the departing Cabinet.

Commissioned by the KCPU, which is an agency overseen by the Ministry of Health, the report was drafted by researcher Łukasz Wieczorek and lawyer Tomasz Bednarczyk from the state-run Institute of Psychiatry and Neurology in Warsaw. 

The study’s two authors compared Poland’s gambling regulations with the conditions in a number of other countries, including Ireland, South Korea, Finland, Germany, the United States, Australia and Italy. 

By analysing the countries’ respective gambling regulations, the report suggests introducing several potential changes to Poland’s regulatory framework. Among others, the study’s authors propose to:

  • Limit the geographical availability of slots, stating that “limiting this access could be beneficial by either decreasing the number of halls or slots available in given areas … or by imposing limits on the time that can be devoted to gambling or the amount of losses” per player.
  • Introduce player ID cards that would be required to access slots and other forms of gambling, and could also be used to impose limits on the amounts players can spend on gambling during a given period of time, similarly to the measures implemented in Finland.
  • Increase the minimum player age from the current level of 18 to 21 years.
  • Establish a self-exclusion system for players, similarly to the measures introduced in the German market. 

The recent election results could create positive conditions for amending Polish gambling regulations next year, as a coalition of parties in opposition to the ruling right-wing Law and Justice party is readying to take power.

On October 15, the country’s opposition parties secured the majority in both chambers of the Polish parliament. 

After around eight years of government by Law and Justice, the nation’s new Cabinet will most likely be formed by a coalition of centre-right, liberal and left-wing parties, and is expected to be sworn in by the end of this year. 

The Law and Justice party’s government passed the country’s existing gambling law in 2016. Among its provisions is a monopoly on online casinos and land-based slots for the state-owned Totalizator Sportowy.

Some gambling stakeholders hope they can lobby the government to consider scrapping the monopoly, along with long-called-for changes to move the tax basis from turnover to gross gaming revenue.

The three electoral alliances that plan to form a new Cabinet together gained 248 out of the 460 seats in the Sejm, the lower chamber of the Polish parliament. The Civic Coalition, Poland 2050 - Polish Peasants’ Party and New Left have 157, 65, and 26 MPs in the new Sejm, respectively.

They would also control the Senate, the upper chamber, holding 66 of the 100 seats, giving them near total control over legislation. 

Although Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki has requested President Andrzej Duda to assign him the mission to form a new government, Morawiecki is unlikely to succeed, as Law and Justice has only 194 of the 460 seats in the lower chamber. 

Following his potential attempt, the mission to create a new Cabinet is likely to be assigned to Donald Tusk, ex-Prime Minister and former president of the Council of Europe, who is the current leader of the Civic Coalition.

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