SBC News Italian Gambling stands against MEF orders ahead of 2024 transformation

Italian Gambling stands against MEF orders ahead of 2024 transformation

Italy’s government has been warned not to proceed with the ‘reorganisation decree of online gambling’ as proposed by the Ministry of the Economy and Finance (MEF).

The demand was made by the Italian online gambling trade association Logico, hosting a press conference last week, expressing ‘unified concerns’ about key proposals endorsed by MEF to overhaul Italy’s stagnant online gambling laws.

The trade body welcomes MEF’s preliminary decree of amendments and resolutions, which will provide the first regulatory evaluation of Italian online gambling since the market’s authorisation in 2011.

However, conflicts have surfaced over MEF’s plans to overhaul Italian online gambling concessions, in which the Ministry has proposed applying a €7m authorisation fee for each licence. The proposed fee reflects a 35-fold increase in standard fees of €200,000 charged since 2018.

Logico expressed concerns about MEF purposely stifling Italian online gambling’s competition as “participation in the online bidding process is expected to be limited to no more than 20 concessionaires compared to the existing 83, resulting in excessively reduced competition.”

MEF endorsed the €7m fee, stating that it reflected the changed dynamics of Italian online gambling since 2011 as the market is dominated by the conglomerates of SNAI, Flutter Entertainment, Lottomatica, Entain, and SKS365.

SBC News Italian Gambling stands against MEF orders ahead of 2024 transformation
Moreno Marasco – Logico

Furthermore, the staggering increase in concession fees is needed to carry out long-standing demands by the ADM, Italy’s Customs and Monopolies Agency, to “eliminate skin websites” and to drastically reduce the number of concessions active in Italy’s online gambling marketplace.

Speaking at the press conference, Logico President Moreno Marasco stated that the proposals put forward made no attempt to resolve Italian gambling’s biggest issue of the blanket ban on advertising and sponsorship imposed by the Dignity Decree of 2018.

Passed into law in 2019 by the former Lega-5Star coalition government, the Dignity Decree imposed a blanket ban on all forms of gambling advertising (legacy and online) and across all Italian sports (professional and amateur) – an unpopular mandate challenged by Italian football and media.

Despite no resolutions on online gambling, 2023 has seen progress on Italy overhauling its federal gambling laws as pledged by the government of Giorgia Meloni.

Sanctioned in August, Parliament approved ‘phase-1’ of changes to existing gambling laws focused on ending licensing disputes, harmonising tax duties, and improving player protections in retail venues.

Yet, the latest developments saw the government postpone the gambling decree’s approval to early 2024, citing that ministers needed to conclude final arrangements on the Budget Law needed to pass any industry reforms.

The delay saw industry trade bodies advocate for an ‘integrated reorganisation’ of all gambling segments, products, and services to ensure competitiveness and effective protection against illegal gambling. Deemed as a critical requirement, Italian gambling is reported to be losing over €1bn in gross revenues to the black market each year.

The industry demands that the government imposes comprehensive rules for payment service providers (PSPs) to support licensed online gambling operators and to ensure “consumer choice and fairness between retail and online licenses”.

SBC News Italian Gambling stands against MEF orders ahead of 2024 transformation
Geronimo Cardia – Acadi

Ahead of 2024 proceedings, a further warning was issued by Geronimo Cardia, President of Acadi, Italy’s Association for slot machine vendors. Cardia warned ministers of their duties in handling a generational transition for Italian gambling, in which deep-seated concerns lie with regards to negative repercussions for stakeholders of a heritage sector.

“The first 20 years of the Italian gaming system have defined the characteristics of the supply chains, consisting of a few hundred companies, about 70 in the online segment, employing more than 150,000 workers,” Cardia noted.

“These companies are an asset for the industry that needs to be safeguarded against imprudent decisions regarding market access conditions that would immediately disrupt the current balance for both online offerings and the outlook for the retail circuit.”

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