It was recently reported that Italy will implement a comprehensive reform of the country’s online gambling laws during this year, as the government officially validated the “Reorganisation Decree” mandate required to resolve the industry’s ongoing conflicts.
On January 2, the government announced that it had validated the conditions of the mentioned Reorganisation Decree, suggested by the Ministry of the Economy and Finance (MEF).
This Decree will carry out the 1st regulatory evaluation of gambling in Italy, since the market was officially approved back in 2011. In addition, its goal is to provide protection to gamblers, mainly minors, to raise tax income for social initiatives and government projects and to fight against criminal activities.
As part of the crucial changes, the country will adopt a fresh licensing framework, which will implement an authorization fee of €7m for every license for online gambling. Additionally, this latest licensing fee is set to be implemented together with a 3% concessionaire’s operating fee.
Relatedly, new concessionaires will have to pay a yearly fee of 0.2% of their net income. The fee will finance responsible gaming campaigns, under the supervision of the latest dedicated gambling division that will report directly to Italy’s Customs and Monopolies Agency (ADM).
The concessions will contain a restriction of 5 licensees accessible for every operating company such as Flutter Ent., Entain, SKS365, SNAI and Lottomatica. In this sense, the resolution is much needed because the MEF wants to terminate the tradition of “skin websites“ selling individual concessionaire products, an issue formerly raised by ADM.
Moreover, the AgiproNews reports that the government aims “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.”
However, Italian online gambling trade body Logico has raised competition concerns, because the suggested fee in the aforementioned Decree shows an increase of 35-fold in regular fees in comparison to the €200,000 levied since 2018. Also, Logico and Arcadi, trade bodies, have advised the government not to continue with said Reorganisation Decree, without input from the gambling industry on imperative changes.
Therefore, the government has decided to wait to determine the exact number of 83 Italian operators who will acquire the fresh license for iGaming, of which “it is estimated that at least 50 operators will apply for the new concession.”
Putting an end to legal disputes regarding the license extension:
Maurizio Leo, the Treasury Deputy Minister tasked with supervising the government’s consideration of land-based and online gaming laws, welcomed the Decree. In this regard, he said that the validation of the Decree will permit the government to bring an end to “the legal disputes on licensing extensions.”
Judges of the High Court called on the said government to apply the latest framework due to the accumulation of legal disputes by operators that challenge the ADM on the conditions of the current concessions, as reported by SBC News.
Furthermore, the Decree involves steps to combat non-legal gambling, introduce self-limitation on gambling, protect vulnerable players, enforce customer restrictions based on deposit levels and disseminate warning messages. In addition, additional market safeguards have been suggested to directly block unlicensed payments and websites from and to non-legal operators, as the government searches for the way to fight “Italian consumers’ exposure to a €1bn black market.”
Although it recommends the review of the concessions, the Decree does not specify changes to the tax for online gambling. The reason for this is that MEF will patiently wait for the government to finish reorganizing the laws that regulate retail gambling establishments.
Giorgia Meloni, Prime Minister of Italy, supported the aforementioned reorganization of country’s gambling (online and land-based), marking this sector as a crucial economic factor, which two years ago raised tax income of €11bn two years ago.