SBC News Italy approves Reorganisation Decree for Online Gambling

Italy approves Reorganisation Decree for Online Gambling

Italy will undertake a sweeping reform of its online gambling laws in 2024, as the government approved the ‘Reorganisation Decree‘ mandate needed to settle long-standing industry conflicts.

On Tuesday, the government declared that it had approved the terms of the Reorganisation Decree, as proposed by the Ministry of the Economy and Finance (MEF).

The Decree will see Italian gambling undertake its first regulatory evaluation since the market’s authorisation in 2011. The decree aims to protect players (especially minors), combat criminal activities, and increase tax revenue for government projects and social initiatives.

Key changes will see Italy adopt a new licensing framework which will apply a €7m authorisation fee for each online gambling licence. The new licence fee will be applied alongside a concessionaire’s operating fee of 3%.

Additionally, future concessionaires will be required to pay an annual fee of 0.2% of their net revenues. The charge will fund campaigns for responsible gaming, overseen by a new specific gambling department that will report to the ADM, Italy’s Customs and Monopolies Agency.

The concessions will feature a limit 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.

As reported by AgiproNews, the government targets ”the expected revenue from the competition is €350m (€200m in 2024 and €150mn in 2025), while the concession fee will bring in new annual revenues of 100 million. Over €6m per year will come from the registration fee for the Register of online top-up agents”.

Yet, competition concerns have been raised by the Italian online gambling trade body Logico, as the Decree’s proposed fee reflects a 35-fold increase in standard fees compared to the €200,000 charged since 2018. The trade bodies of Logico and Acadi warned the government not to proceed with the Reorganisation Decree, without the gambling industry’s input on necessary changes.   

As such, the government will wait to see how many of Italy’s existing 83 operators will take on the new licence for online gambling, which is ‘estimated that at least 50 operators will apply for the new concession.’

The Decree was welcomed by Treasury Deputy Minister, Maurizio Leo, charged with overseeing the government’s overhaul of laws for online and land-based gaming. Leo stated that the ‘approval of the Decree will allow the government to put an end to the legal disputes on licensing extensions.’

High Court judges had urged the government to implement a new framework due to a backlog of legal challenges by operators challenging the ADM on the terms of existing concessions.

The decree includes measures to counter illegal gambling, protect vulnerable players, introduce self-limitation on gambling, disseminate cautionary messages, and enforce customer restrictions based on deposit levels.

Further market safeguards are proposed on the direct blocking of unlicensed websites and payments to and from illegal operators, in which the government seeks to combat Italian consumers’ “exposure to a €1bn black market.” 

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

PM Giorgia Meloni has endorsed the reorganisation of Italian gambling (land-based and online), branding the sector as a key economic contributor, which raised tax revenues of €11bn in 2022.

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