Hope dawns for a much-needed reform of Italian gambling, as the Ministry of the Economy and Finance is reported to have taken charge of a ‘reorganisation plan’ to implement an overhaul of market safeguards.
Despite securing cross-party consensus during the close of 2021, Italian MPs failed to approve any gambling reforms to be adopted by Italy’s Budget Law for 2022.
A new year pointed to further conflicts between licensed operators and the Agency of Customs and Monopolies (ADM) – as incumbents require definitive resolutions on betting shop, gaming machine, online and land-based gambling concessions.
Stepping in as peacemaker, the Ministry of the Economy has put forward ‘a preliminary draft’ outlining its desired principles for the future of Italy’s regulated gambling sector.
The Ministry seeks to reform Italian gambling on the key objectives of “minimising problem gambling, terminating black market activities and optimising tax incomes from licensed businesses.”
Much focus has been placed on the “territorial reorganisation” of Italian gambling’s retail operators (betting shop, arcades, bingo halls) that “must be gradually reduced and concentrated in safe and controlled venues” – an objective shared with the ADM.
Market safeguards will see the Ministry impose a new central player registry that all problem-gambling self-exclusion schemes and licensed operators (retail and online) must be integrated with.
The central registry will provide retail operators with new ID verification measures to allow customers to enter gambling venues and will further certify individual devices for online play.
The reorganisation plan favours a reduction in ‘stake and win limits’, however, the Ministry did not provide any detail on which gaming/product vertical the measure would be applied to.
Tackling black market threats head-on, the Ministry has called on the ADM to be granted more powers to coordinate investigation of unlicensed operators with the federal police.
The ADM will be allowed to propose new cross-industry/business monitoring powers to tackle gambling criminality and “stop all forms of illegal gambling, especially those offered via the web by criminals who use IT platforms based outside the country”.
Supporting the ADM, the Ministry stated that criminal offences related to gambling should be elevated by Italy‘s justice system, and recommends that “gambling tax evasion to be treated as a high-level crime.”
Concluding its draft proposal, the Ministry outlined that it could implement a reform framework within a 12-to-18 month period, with legislation introduced by Italy’s Parliament through the approval of ‘one-or-two legislative decrees’.
Irrespective of the draft proposals, Italian gambling still requires an urgent government resolution on licensing concessions across all gambling verticals as 2021 extensions granted by Rome TAR Courts will end within the coming months.
Treasury undersecretary Federico Freni, who previously led calls for industry reforms, commented on 2022 proceedings – “There will be no tender for any concession without a sector reorganization”. All the concessions are extended until the ninetieth day following the end of the Nation-state of emergency, set on the 31st of March.
“The gaming machines and betting licenses’ expiry date is then currently set on June 30, 2022. At the end of the current extension, we’ll establish new technical extensions pending the sector reorganisation.”