AgiproNews Italian View – Retail lockdown sees betting face months of trauma

Nicola Tani – AgiproNews

Complying with the Italian government’s ‘Public Health Decree sanctioned on Sunday 8 March, Italian gambling has officially gone into lockdown.

The country at the centre of Europe’s COVID-19 pandemic has seen all retailers ordered to temporarily shut apart from food stores and pharmacies, as PM Giuseppe Conte enforces the toughest public stance minimising the spread of the virus and its impact on the nation’s strained health networks.

Initially sanctioned for the region of Lombardy and 14 neighbouring provinces, Italian betting closed 6000 shops, alongside 500 arcades and 200 bingo halls complying with Conte’s order.

However, within a matter of days, Conte would turn the screw on his dramatic decree, sanctioning a national quarantine stating that Italy had ‘entered its darkest hours’.

At present all Italian retail stakeholders are forced to comply with the decree’s order until 3 April. Yet there remains a high possibility that Italian businesses quarantine schedule may be extended as COVID-19 cases have appeared across all Italian provinces.

Ghost-like Italian highstreets see all retail betting, bingo and VLT venues forced to temporarily close for a period of three weeks. The quarantine further impacts all Italian gambling verticals as bars and cafes shut, terminating fruit machine play.

Providing some essential supplies, Italian tobacconists have escaped Conte’s order, however, shop keepers must limit public access and cannot provide gambling-related transactions except for the sale of lottery tickets.

COVID-19 impacts, follow a tough start to 2020 trading for Italian gambling venues in which the enforcement of mandatory state ‘health cards’ to access machines saw a dramatic 30% decline in engagement compared to 2019 records

Tracking the industry, ADM figures point to a huge impact for all betting stakeholders. The regulators latest estimates, calculate a combined loss of €750m, split at €450m for the Italian state and €300 for its incumbents.

Nerves are on edge, as a further weekend saw Italy record 368 more Coronavirus related deaths, the largest number of fatalities in a day since the start of the outbreak.

The Conte government has adopted measures to support business incumbents (including gaming), delaying 2020 tax payments as well as securing a €25 billion economic support package as a means of safeguarding Italian businesses.

-Despite Conte’s business pledge, post this period of unforeseen national trauma, Italian betting will gaze at another abyss, having to work-out whether there remains a road to recovery.

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Content provided by AgiproNews Italia

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