AgiproNews’ Italian View: New incumbents accept restrictive realities

Italy’s Customs & Monopoly Agency (Agenzia delle Dogane – AGM) the government body overseeing gambling regulatory policy expects to issue its new online gambling licences by the end of the year.

Updating the market, the AGM has disclosed that it has received 80 official operator applications. However, moving forward the AGM will initially reward 60 active operators with new online gambling licences, as incumbents had been waiting for two-years to renew their licensing entities.

Thus far,  it appears that Italian online gambling has maintained its appeal to foreign enterprises, who have not withdrawn their applications to enter the market despite the unforeseen upheaval caused by the new coalition government’s Dignity Decree.

To date, not one industry incumbent has filed an official complaint against the Lega-5Star Decree (implemented 15 July), a mandate which will install a blanket ban on all forms of gambling/betting related content across all verticals by June 2019.

Furthermore, the Italian Treasury can point to a successful tender arrangement in which the government has raised circa €16 million for its new licensing window.

At present, Stockholm-listed LeoVegas AB appears to be the only foreign operator willing to challenge the pending blanket ban, by choosing to fight its battle at a European level.

Niklas Lindahl – LeoVegas AB

This September, Niklas Lindahl Managing Director of LeoVegas Italia confirmed that the Stockholm enterprise had filed two EC-level complaints against Lega-5Star’s mandate, for breaching European anti-competition laws and business policy in relation to state-aid rules.

“I met members of the European Parliament – mostly Italian, Swedish and Maltese, in order to raise their awareness and to face the problem.” Lindahl has detailed

Furthermore, I scheduled new meetings with the European Commission, in order to start a direct dialogue with the Directorate-General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs. It is going to be a busy autumn and LeoVegas will be heading the fight for the defence of workers’ rights in a field that has been demonised for far too long”.

As LeoVegas chooses to contest the Decree, it appears that new online incumbents will simply conform to the demands of competing within a restrictive marketplace, choosing to restructure their Italian entry strategies.

Paris Smith – Pinnacle

Speaking to AgiproNews at the 2018 Betting on Sports Conference, Paris Smith, Chief Executive of low-margin sportsbook Pinnacle, stated that the Decree would not sway the betting firm’s long-awaited ambitions of entering Italy’s online betting scene.

“We will not change our strategies for Italy, we have always avoided giving bonuses to customers, due to our sportsbook operating on low margins,  we are therefore careful on how we advertise our markets. We are aware of the Italian context but at the moment we have no intention of withdrawing our application.”

Smith acknowledges concerns at a product-level, for Italian stakeholders, as the market will not revamp its betting guidelines for cash-out functionalities and Asian handicap markets. Nevertheless, Pinnacle’s leader is confident that the bookmaker can make its mark with Italian customers.

“The Asian handicap is just one of our products, but not the only one. We are confident of our strategy and strengths for Italy”

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