SBC News Italy to begin generational overhaul of gambling laws  

Italy to begin generational overhaul of gambling laws  

Italy’s Chamber of Deputies has approved the ‘Tax Delegation Law, a decree that paves the way for  ‘industry reorganisation’ of the Italian gambling sector. The bill has been forwarded to the Senate for its secondary approval where it is expected to face no challenges in its passage into law. 

Backing the mandate, Deputy Minister for the Economy Maurizio Leo expressed the government’s intention to finalise the approval before the summer break in August. At the start of the year, Leo was assigned to lead a delegation drafting reforms to modernise the Italian gambling market.   

Upon receiving its final approval, the government anticipates a timeline of 18-24 months for drafting the implementation of decree reforms. It will be followed by an additional year for setting up the new licensing regime, to grant new tender notices for gambling concessions to be settled in 2024. 

Roberto Alesse, Managing Director of the Agency of Customs and Monopolies (ADM), views the new law as an ‘extraordinary legislative opportunity’ to settle a series of outstanding issues impacting both the gambling industry and the lives of citizens.

The ADM boss emphasised the need for stakeholders to address “the operation of the gambling business to improve player protection and standards”.

In his notice, Alesse addressed the issue of fragmented regional laws on gambling. He assured stakeholders that local authorities and the ADM will work together to identify ‘sensitive areas’ where gambling activities must be limited to protect vulnerable groups.

Of importance, the reforms acknowledge that the public gaming sector brings significant value to the Treasury, generating approximately €11bn annually in revenue and employing about 150,000 workers.

The pending reforms mark the fourth attempt to restructure the Italian gambling market, as previous efforts were stymied by political infighting amid consecutive government fallouts in the past two decades.

The draft law suggests that the government will continue to use a model based on state concession and police authorisation. Of importance for incumbents, the government and regions will jointly seek a solution for local laws for gambling venues

The reform stipulates that retail gaming outlets must comply with specific opening times and maintain a minimum distance – varying from 200 to 500 meters depending on local laws – from sensitive areas like schools and hospitals. A single, uniform distance valid across the nation, along with the concentration of gaming operations in secure, regulated venues, constitutes the basis of the reform.

These measures are intended to bolster an already strong market, recognised as the second largest in Europe – and fundamental to upgrading protections on problem gamblers.

Long-awaited protections include caps on stakes and winnings, mandatory training for concessionaires, dealers, and operators, strengthening self-exclusion mechanisms, defining minimum characteristics for gambling venues, and prohibiting betting on underage sports competitions.

In line with the Stability Law of 2022, online gaming, machines, betting, and bingo concessions have been extended until December 31, 2024.

Despite the lockdown impact on gaming outlets in 2020 and 2021, the Italian market continues to grow. In 2022, gross gaming revenue (GGR) saw a 31% increase to €19.6bn , while tax revenues rose by 28% to €11.2bn. 

The industry has shown strong support for the general reform, seeking stability for its businesses. The remainder of 2023 will prove whether the Italian government is serious in settling long-standing gambling issues.   

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