AgiproNews Italian View: Betting skips Coalition bullet, but political circus hurts all stakeholders

Last week’s failure by Giuseppe Conte Italy’s Prime Minister-designate to form a government has been met with relief by Italian betting industry stakeholders, yet angst remains as Italy faces yet another constitutional crisis.

Leading the right-wing populist coalition of the Lega Nord and Five Star Movement, the only parties capable of forming a government, Conte was blocked by Italian President Sergio Mattarella.

Utilising his constitutional decree, Mattarella rejected the coalition anti-euro cabinet, on the grounds that it would severely impact the Italian economy and financial system, should a new government move to exit the European single currency.

At present, it appears that Mattarella will move to trigger a new General Election set for this autumn, as Italy seeks to appoint its sixth government since 2010.

In their joint coalition mandate, Luigi di Maio, leader of Five Star and Matteo Salvini head of Lega Nord, had agreed to push through severe restrictions on the Italian gambling sector.

Both leaders of the populist parties had agreed, that Italy was in need of a blanket ban on betting advertising and sports sponsorships. Furthermore, the coalition would move to ban ‘repeat bet’ mechanisms, and place ‘designated area/venue’ restrictions on slot machines and betting VLTs.

Both di Maio and Salvini have previously stated that Italy needs a ‘stronger social contract against the ills of gambling’.

The failure to form a Lega Nord-Five Star coalition, for now has seen the Italian betting market miss a €4-5 billion revenue bullet, according to Italian financial consultancy Equita SIM.

Nevertheless, Italian betting stakeholder nerves are on edge, as Italy faces months of political uncertainty, in which the nation’s electorate will decide Italy’s European, constitutional and financial futures.

The political turmoil will likely impact the industry’s positivity for 2018, a year in which Italy is set to revamp its national gambling framework, updating its all-around industry code and further opening its market to new digital incumbents.

The Italian parliament had previously extended the powers of regulatory body Agenzia delle Dogane e dei Monopoli (ADM) to introduce and monitor long-awaited sector policies relating to betting market disputes, industry protections and in-play betting functionalities.

Many viewed that a revamped gambling/betting code, with stronger operational provisions and guidance, would lead to Italian betting’s ‘second boom’.

Nevertheless, insider fears grow that the Italian betting sector may yet be another victim of Italy’s never-ending political circus… which sadly is no laughing matter!

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