Poland’s trade association treasurer and editor of web portal www.e-play.pl low Bulski has revealed a number of key facts about the Polish coin-op industry. To open a trade association in Poland, the minimum legal requirement is 100 members. Poland’s trade association began in 1997 and costs PLN1,000 (£ 261) per month per member to join. “Our market is growing,” said Bulski, “but we don’t have much cashpoint. ”

Now the Polish coin-op association is a member of Euromat, it expects to receive help in terms of awareness of various European coin-op legislation and to become a more powerful voice when dealing with its own government. Currently, there are 173 arcades in Poland and cities with a population of under 100,000 are only allowed a single large arcade. Operators face crippling taxes of up to 55 per cent. AWPs in Poland, however, have a fixed monthly tax of £ 125, whereas casinos (of which there are 27) pay 45 per cent income tax. Bulski reckons opportunities for operators of AWPs in Poland are better than those for casino owners.

      For the Polish trade association to be effective, it must be strong and show a united front, bulski told us. All AWP companies must operate legally. “In fact, we’£ find a solution for the Polish casino industry as well and share resources,” said Bulski. He revealed that a leading casino operator attended one of Bulski’s meetings with a view to forming a single, large association serving the interests of the casino and the coin-op industry. Bulski envisages the union as ultimately being in a position to educate and inform Polish operators about its administration and finance and its importance to the domestic economy. “We try to help all our members, but we can only do this if they reciprocate. ”
      For many years, Poland only had illegal operations, now they are learning how to work within economic constraints. Presently, there are five machine producers in Poland and ‘many good software writers. ’ “In the future, other countries will use our technology and expertise. It’s only been since 2003 that AWPs have been legal in Poland – for the first time in 45 years!”

      Bulski explained that the Ukraine, Romania and Poland are still relatively poor countries, certainly in comparison to western European nations. “We need to educate poker pleyars and jurisdictions that it’s not just about playing machines to win money, but it’s also about having fun, indulging in a pastime, enjoying the experience and being entertained. ”     

Under the terms of the 2003 law, AWPs are legal under certain conditions. The maximum win is £ 15, maximum bet 70c and taxes are £125 per machine, per month. There are 17 regions in Poland that give independent approval to machines, in a manner not dissimilar to Spain. Approval, frustratingly, can take up to 18 months. “it’s (the proliferation of slot machines) a relatively new thing, therefore the bureaucrats are scared. ”

      In terms of equipment, Poland still has a number of old machines from Barcrest, ace et al in circulation, but new machines are coming through slowly but surely from the likes of Novomatic. Currently, the balance is 75 percent second hand machines, 25 per cent new, but the percentage of new machines is rising. “Polish operators tend to be men to simple pleasures in as much as the new breed of win/lose machines give good profits. ”
      Apparently, two firms in particular  are in the process of building machines for the casino and coin-op industries. Given the import tax of 17 per cent, bulski believes that machines can be produced 50 per cent cheaper locally, when all costs are considered, and Novomatic will benefit from this. Poland is no different to countries with a longer coin-op entertainment history, claims Bulski, and the problems it faces, such as excessive paperwork, administration time and theft, are symptomatic of the wider world. “Extortion is a thing of the past in Poland and more people are prepared to take the plunge as a result.