Italy Approves Major Online Gambling Law Reform
Italy is set to undertake a comprehensive reform of its online gambling laws in 2024, marking a significant shift in the regulatory landscape since the market’s authorization in 2011.
The government, following the approval of the ‘Reorganisation Decree’ mandate, aims to address longstanding industry conflicts and enhance the sector’s integrity and fiscal contributions.
Sweeping Changes in Italian Online Gambling
The reform, as outlined in the Reorganisation Decree, is poised to protect players, especially minors, combat criminal activities, and boost government revenues for various projects and social initiatives. This marks the first regulatory evaluation of the Italian gambling market in over a decade.
A pivotal change is the adoption of a new licensing framework. Under this framework, each online gambling license will incur a €7 million authorization fee, in addition to a 3% operating fee. Additionally, future concessionaires will be required to contribute 0.2% of their net revenues annually to fund responsible gaming campaigns. This initiative will be overseen by a newly established gambling department within Italy’s Customs and Monopolies Agency (ADM).
Limitations and Market Concerns
The decree imposes a limit of five licenses per operating firm, addressing the issue of ‘skin websites’ and ensuring a more controlled and transparent market. However, this has raised competition concerns, with the Italian online gambling trade body Logico highlighting a significant increase in standard fees compared to previous charges.
Despite these concerns, the government anticipates that at least 50 of the existing 83 operators will apply for the new concession. Measures to counter illegal gambling, protect vulnerable players, and enforce customer restrictions based on deposit levels are also included in the decree. Further safeguards involve direct blocking of unlicensed websites and transactions with illegal operators.
No Tax Changes Yet for Online Gambling
While the decree calls for an overhaul of concessions, it does not propose any tax changes for online gambling. The Ministry of Economy and Finance (MEF) will await the government’s finalization of laws governing retail gambling venues before making any tax-related adjustments.
Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni has endorsed the reorganization of Italian gambling, recognizing the sector’s significant economic contribution. Treasury Deputy Minister Maurizio Leo also expressed support, stating that the approval of the Decree will resolve legal disputes regarding licensing extensions.
Our Comment on the Article
Italy’s decision to reform its online gambling laws is a landmark move, reflecting the evolving nature of the iGaming industry and the need for modernized regulations. The introduction of new licensing fees and a cap on the number of licenses per operator indicates a shift towards a more controlled and responsible gaming environment.
While this may pose challenges for some operators, it is a necessary step to ensure player protection and combat illegal activities. The success of this reform will depend on how well it balances the interests of various stakeholders, from operators to players, while maintaining the industry’s robust contribution to the national economy. This reform could serve as a model for other countries grappling with similar issues in the iGaming sector.