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MEF calls on overhaul of Italy’s stagnant online gambling laws 

Sweeping changes loom on the horizon for Italy’s online gambling sector, as the Ministry of the Economy and Finance (MEF) is set to publish a preliminary decree of amendments and resolutions. 

Of significance, the MEF’s decree will demand the government review Italy’s existing online gambling laws, marking the sector’s first regulatory evaluation since the authorisation of online gambling in 2011.

The draft text of the decree has outlined several changes related to online gambling concessions, licensing fees, regulatory oversight and new measures/controls needed to combat illegal gambling.

Headline measures see the MEF recommend an overhaul of Italy’s current concessions model and licensing framework for online gambling businesses to partake in the market. 

The MEF has recommended a new model that will price online gambling concessions at €7m. This reflects a x20 increase on the median concession of €300,000 paid by the majority of Italy’s established operators, which the MEF considers to be severely under-priced.

The concessions will feature a cap of five licenses available for each operating firm such as SNAI, Flutter Entertainment, Lottomatica, Entain or SKS365. The resolution is required as the MEF seeks to end the practice of “skin websites selling single concessionaire products” – a point of concern previously raised by ADM, Italy’s customs and monopolies agency. 

Despite recommending an overhaul of concessions, the decree cites no tax changes for online gambling, as the MEF awaits for the government to finalise the reorganisation of laws governing retail gambling venues.

However, on fiscal policies, the government will be allowed to apply a ‘yearly adjustment fee’ on individual concessions – recommended at 2% of the online gross revenues.

Strengthening industry governance, the Ministry recommends that the government establish a ‘Public Gambling Council’ mirroring other European nations.

In support of Italy’s ADM, the Gambling Council will scrutinise gambling activities as well as propose anti-gambling measures to the government.

Government agencies will be required to provide new controls to help combat illegal gambling targeting Italian consumers, in light of recent high-profile scandals involving Italian football internationals Sandro Tonali and Nicolo Zaniolo.

Following investigations that Italian consumers wager €4bn on black market websites, the MEF has called on the government to revise protections to strengthen market protections and exclude illegal operators.  

The MEF concluded that the full text of the preliminary decree will be on the table of PM Giorgia Meloni in the coming weeks, attached as a Ministry resolution of the government’s Budget Law for 2024.

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