AgiproNews Italian View: Miseria… Italian betting faces new tax realities in 2019

Approving the Lega-5Star coalition ‘Budget Law’ on the weekend before Christmas, Italy’s Senate has delivered coal to betting stakeholders’ festive stockings, as a miserable 2018 closes its curtains.

From 1 January 2019, Italian land-based and online gambling incumbents will have to undertake a number of quick adjustments to a new tax reality, as Lega-5Star seeks to collect circa €700 million in new tax revenues from its latest ‘industry squeeze’.

Since forming a populist government on June 2018, the betting and gambling sectors have served as Lega-5Star whipping boys, with the coalition further demonstrating no mercy in its budget as its dishes out new tax charges across all industry verticals.

The Budget Law delivers a 2% GGR increase across all sports wagering-related services – with online sportsbook GGR duty increased from 22 to 24%, retail betting activities from 18 to 20%, whilst wagering on virtual events is marked up to 22% from its current 20%.

As anticipated, the Senate approved the coalition’s planned retail Video-lottery and arcade machine turnover duty increase from 1.25 to 1.35%. However, Italian regulatory body, the ADM will permit operators to lower machine ‘win rates’ from 70-to-68% on arcade slots alongside 85-to-84% on Video-lottery terminals.

Further operator adjustments are expected, as the Budget Law confirms a 20-to-25% GGR increase on ‘online skill games and bingo’.

Industry incumbents have asked the government for a clear definition on the criteria of ‘skill games’, in what appears to be a palpable error made by Lega-5Star legislators referring to all online casino-related content.

Despite enforcing inbound tax increases, running alongside the well-documented blanket ban on advertising, marketing and sponsorship of gambling/betting services, Lega-5Star reiterate that Italian gambling is still ‘open for business’.

Surprisingly, within the Budget’s mandate, new Italian sports betting and bingo concessions have been extended up to the 31st of December 2019, with the coalition expecting to collect around €70 million in combined industry licensing fees.

During the course of the year, Italian betting/gambling has been dealt many painful lashes dished out by its new coalition masters. Nevertheless, it would be deputy-premier Luigi Di Maio who would serve the sector’s bitterest blow proclaiming and gleaming that Lega-5Star had made Italian gambling’s “the most taxed in Europe”…

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