Italy is still trying to figure out how it wants to regulate its gambling industry going forward, which means sports betting operators get a free pass. Instead, the country will extend their concessions for two years, allowing more time to fine-tune its new gambling laws.
The Customs and Monopolies Agency (ADM, for its Italian acronym) has announced that it will extend the concessions for sports betting operators until June 30, 2024. The expected cost for the agencies is €7,500 (US$7,587) per year and, for now, there will be a limit of 5,755 betting shops available.
In addition, shops that offer sports betting as an ancillary service will pay €4,500 ($4,553). This applies to those who accept wagers as an ancillary business. The concessions expired as of June 30 of this year, leaving operators uncertain about what would happen next.
Italian Sports Betting in Limbo
Operators have considerable leeway to make these new payments. For the year from June 30, 2022, to June 30, 2023, they need to make two equal installments. These will be on October 31 of this year and April 30 of next year. For year two, the same dates apply.
Failure to pay the amounts due within the time limits will lead to the elimination of the extension of the concession. This implies that the operator will be operating illegally and will lose all rights under current gambling laws.
However, operators have to meet other requirements well in advance of those deadlines. The ADM added that, by July 18, operators and shops must inform the agency if they don’t intend on taking advantage of all or part of the activity their current concessions allow. No notice means that the licensee is on board with the extension program.
The extension comes as several proposed reforms to Italy’s gambling laws find rejection. This leads to political bickering that slows down the approval process.
Among some of the amendments that haven’t found support is one that would exempt eSports gaming machines from the rules on technical conformity checks issued by the tax administration. Another amendment wants to exclude games and devices that have a purely “recreational function” from the controls public security laws provide. However, absent a clear definition of “recreational function,” delineating between recreational and non-recreational becomes a challenge.
In addition, a measure wants to attribute to the Ministry of Economy and Finance, not the Minister of the Interior, the task of preparing regulations for the use and analysis of the data gaming devices record and transmit. The political power struggle will prevent this from finding a quick resolution.
Time Running Out
If it were up to some people in Italy, there would be no legal gambling. Senators such as Giovanni Endrizzi are fielding input from the public that wants the government to “close all these” gambling properties.
Instead, they want lawmakers to focus on libraries, parks and other community projects. Those individuals, however, fail to realize that gambling is paying for those projects.
Endrizzi acknowledges, according to local media, that shutting down gambling is not an option. Instead, it’s important to regulate it properly so it can be a legitimate and profitable segment of the economy. In addition, banning legal gambling will only lead to illegal, mafia-controlled alternatives.
The Ministry of the Economy and Finance ordered a reform of the gambling industry at the beginning of the year. However, because of all of the moving parts, it has become a monumental task.
The pressure is building, too, since it has to present its reform to Parliament and regional governments. That must happen before Italy holds its next general election, which is now less than a year away.
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