Italian MPs urged to support gambling reforms as a Budget Law commitment

Italian gambling is waiting to see whether amendments to restructure the gambling sector will be incorporated as a policy measure of Italy’s next Budget Law.

A draft proposal to ‘reorganise Italian gambling’ is reported to have been finalised by Claudio Durigon, the former undersecretary of the Economic Treasury.

Yet, maintaining the bad luck tribulations of Italian gambling, Durigon was forced to resign from his influential position last month, having been deemed to have made inappropriate statements supportive of the fascist regime of Benito Mussolini.

For months, Durigon had lobbied parliament to support wholesale changes to Italian gambling. Of significance, Durigon had made progress with fellow Lega MPs to support modifying gambling laws adopted by the party during its coalition tenure with Five Star Movement (MS5).

Parliament has agreed that Durigon will be replaced by a Lega member, as the party puts forward Edoardo Rixi and Massimo Bitonci as the preferred candidates to serve the treasury.

Though supportive of reforms, it remains to be seen whether Lega will proceed with backing Durigon amendments to be adopted by the Budget Law – a sensitive issue as political parties prepare to contest Italy’s Presidential Election in 2022.

Italy’s gambling sector remains in drastic need of reforms, as a ‘blue book’ published by the Customs and Monopolies Agency (ADM) revealed the cost of damages the COVID-19 pandemic inflicted on Italian gambling and its tax output during 2020.

Navigating the perils of a pandemic year, Italian gambling’s total gross gaming revenues (land-based and online) declined by 33% to €12.9 billion, as total wagering declined by 17% to €75 billion.

Italian gambling’s land-based sector recorded a +50% GGR drop across the business segments of retail betting (-48%), bingo (-59%), slots-VLTs (-53%) and horseracing (52%) as incumbents were forced to obey Europe’s strictest lockdown orders.

Of immediate concern, Italian gambling incumbents is waiting for the ADM’s judgement on Italian betting shop concessions that has been postponed until 31 October.

The customs agency is set to review the concessions of 10,000 retail venues/outlets, primarily impacting the franchisees of Snaitech, Lottomattica, Sisal, SKS365 and Eurobet.

Further to its review of betting shop concessions, the Italian government maintains its orders on the ADM to reduce the field size of Italian online gambling by 50% to 40 licences by 2023.

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