Italy has been working on gambling reforms to correct what it says is a “splintered” approach to regulations. Also referred to as the “anti-mafia” legislation, a new set of legislative measures is advancing, although it still has a long way to go.
The bill covers all aspects of gambling, from casinos to bingo to sports betting. It’s now in front of Parliament for discussion, but needs input from a minimum of 12 committees before it reaches the finish line.
Some jurisdictions, like the Municipality of Anzola dell’Emilia, have implemented their own gaming regulations. This has led to legal battles that have been taken all the way to the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU).
There have also been questions about who is entitled to hold a gaming license, with Italy’s licensing procedures coming under fire. With the reforms, supporters hope all the controversy goes away.
Setting the Record Straight
Anzola dell’Emilia previously introduced a restriction on hours of operation for gaming properties that operators tried to fight. They lost when a judge sided with the municipality. However, the decision had no impact on the online gaming segment.
The case wasn’t the catalyst for the reforms, but shows the need for a systematic approach. All gaming operators need to know what to expect before launching their services.
The legislation, which is being spearheaded by Treasury Deputy Minister Maurizio Leo, confirms the organizational model of the gaming system based on the concession and authorization system. This would ensure a single point of issuance for concessions and licenses across the country in an attempt to prevent under-the-table deals and increase integrity.
It also contains the principles and criteria for the reorganization of the provisions in force regarding responsible gambling. In addition, the legislation addresses where land-based gaming can take place.
There’s also language that provides policies for the regulation of controls and assessment of gaming taxes. This includes how much operators should pay, how they should pay and how the government would use the funds.
Leo’s measures authorize the local authorities in Italy’s various municipalities to participate in the discussions and planning procedure for gaming activity. They can also have a say in the rules for licenses and what constitutes the proper qualifications.
Other topics include a reduction of betting and winning limits and an increase in required responsible gambling training for managers and operators. Part of that training covers the strengthening of mechanisms for self-exclusion from gaming, which will be necessary to support a mandated national self-exclusion register.
Among the many other topics is a guaranteed sports betting ban. Specifically, amateur sports competitions where the majority of the athletes are under 18 will be off-limits for betting.
No Clear Path
This initiative is gaining momentum and could find a way through the legislative maze where previous attempts have failed. For almost a decade, various bills have been introduced to streamline Italy’s gaming industry and oversight, but they never found success.
Two, in particular, failed to convince consumers that the legislation was in their best interest, and public support faded away. However, having a new prime minister, Giorgia Meloni, who took office last October, could make a difference.
Italy has a strong gambling market that continues to deliver significant revenue to the country. In 2015, according to Statista, the industry’s gross gaming revenue (GGR) was €17 billion (US$18.7 billion), and this grew to €19.42 billion (US$21.37) in 2019.
COVID-19 hurt the market over the next couple of years, although online gaming picked up some of the slack. GGR reached €19.6 billion (US$21.57 billion) in 2022, much of which was attributed to the online segment.
As a result, the government received over €11 billion (US$12.1 billion) in tax revenue last year, marking a 28% increase. The online gaming market has slipped a little this year, but remains strong and is beating last year’s mark.
There’s no strict timeline for the new reforms to be in place, although the government wants them as soon as possible. If everything stays on track, it’s possible they’ll receive final approval in less than a year.
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