The proposed reprieve for the licensee came thanks to the government’s ‘Cura Decree’ (Care Decree), an economic program that aims to relieve the negative economic impact the global COVID-19 pandemic has had so far.
At the height of last year’s pandemic in Italy, the government instructed the ADM not to take any actions on the extensions of gambling licenses until the end of June 2021, which was in accordance with the Cura Decree. However, after much deliberation on the state of gambling at the time, the ADM decided to give all betting shop and bingo hall operators a 3-month concession following the termination of the Cura Decree program scheduled for July 31.
This move effectively gave betting shops a grace period until the end of October to prepare for a process of license renewals that ought to play out under a new set of rules. The Agency has already begun reviewing the concessions for a reported 10,000 retail venues from the leading gambling franchisees of Snaitech, Sisal, SKS365, Lottomatica, and Eurobet, the impact of which could already be felt.
New Gambling Rules in Italy Looming?
The concession extension came in handy not only for the sports betting businesses but the ADM as well. Even though it has stated the coronavirus as the main reason, there are other reasons as well. Namely, under the new budget law, the government has envisaged specific changes to the way gambling operators in the country can be licensed and how the new renewal process will look.
In the previous tender, 120 licenses were set up, each of which had a four-year expiration date and came at the cost of €200,000 per license. Nevertheless, the Italian government seems to be ready to drastically change the gambling landscape in the country, starting with the number of licensed operators. They wish for ADM to issue only 40 licenses, where each will have a price tag of a whopping €2.5 million. The current number of concessionaires is set at 82, so the proposed changes are expected to halve in number.
Retail gaming regulations are also supposed to undergo certain changes. The reforms include the introduction of separate gaming rooms in bars designed for slot machines and alterations in the designation of horse racing, VLT and bingo halls, and sports betting agencies as gaming halls.
The European Gaming & Betting Association (EGBA) has been notified of the changes. It has transferred the matter over to the European Commission, hoping that it will demand a thorough explanation from the ADM and its plans to cull the gambling industry in the country. It remains to be seen how the move will affect the fair competition business standards and the general EU rules Italy has vowed to abide by.
Overview of Gambling Licensing Rules in Italy
Italy is a country with a central gambling regulator called the Agenzia delle Dogane e dei Monopoli (ADM). The 2007 Decree on Liberalization was a crucial moment in the history of modern gambling in the state, as it saw the legalisation of all forms of gambling, including online sports betting.
The final online betting legal framework was established in 2010 and has remained in power to this day. All operators looking to get a license from the ADM and offer their services to Italians need to meet the following requirements: there is a one-off fee of €200,000, plus a GGR tax (gross gaming revenue) that is between 18 and 25%, depending on the type of license you are applying for.
What’s more, the companies need to have a physical presence anywhere in the EU or any other country that belongs to the European Economic Area to obtain an ADM license. The .it domain will be attributed to all online betting sites approved by the regulator so that the players know they have been licensed and regulated.
Companies that have not been credited with any EU gaming licenses and that have not presented proof of a previous two-year turnover of at least €1.5 million are also required to obtain and submit a bank guarantee of that same amount, as well as additional proof of technical and infrastructural ability to conduct a gambling business.