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Tuesday, May 25, 2010
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The Italian Gaming Authority has published a Bulletin Circular providing the details on the technical authorization process to be performed by Italian licensed operators before starting the  offer of online skill games (including poker tournaments), poker cash games and casino games. New entrants in the market interested in the offer of such games shall - before starting the offer of their games to Italian residents -:
  1. apply and obtain an Italian online gaming license;
  2. have their gaming platform and each offered game certified by a certification entity accredited with the Italian Gaming Authority;
  3. submit to the Italian Gaming Authority the project relating to their gaming platform and each offered game; and
  4. obtain the technical authorization for the offer such games by the Italian Gaming Authority.
However, the Bulletin Circular contained also some some bad news for operators. Indeed, while it will be possible to obtain the technical authorization for the offer of poker cash games and casino games different from online slot machines following the publication of the decree on the new licensing regime (expected to occur shortly), it will be necessary to wait at least until March 2011 to start offering online slot machines
This decision from the regulator has given rise to considerable complaints, but such delay should not hinder the growth of the Italian gaming market that will see in the next months also the launch of betting exchange games and bets on simulated events.
Do you have questions on the above? Feel free to contact me, Giulio Coraggio.
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Monday, May 17, 2010
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As discussed in a previous post, the new Italian online gaming license regime will allow operators to locate their company and their servers in any country of the European Economic Area. This represents a considerable advantage for gaming operators that will be able to set up their company in countries with a tax regime much more favorable than Italy like Malta. In this context, a friend of GamingTechLAW, Ian Gauci, a partner in the Maltese law firm Gatt Tufigno Gauci, Advocates, was so kind in providing the post below that gives some insights on the reasons why Malta is a favorable country for gaming operators.  Enjoy the article! 

As the first EU country to formally regulate iGaming, Malta has established itself as a leader in the gaming industry, attracting some of the major players to the island’s shores. The success of the iGaming industry is not solely attributable to one factor but it is widely acknowledged that apart from the gaming legislation, a number of unique characteristics as explained briefly in this post have contributed to this accomplishment. One of the attractions that Malta offers to investors is undoubtedly the favorable taxation regime applicable to Maltese registered companies. Although Maltese companies are taxed at a flat rate of 35% on worldwide income, various tax refunds are available at the level of shareholders.  Upon a distribution of a dividend, shareholders are entitled to:
  • a refund of 6/7ths of the total tax paid, including any foreign tax paid;
  • a refund of 5/7ths in case of profits derived from passive interests or royalties; and
  • a refund of 2/3rds of the total tax paid if relief from double taxation is claimed.
Malta adopts the full imputation system which means that dividends will not be taxed again in the hands the shareholders. A wide range of double taxation treaties (including a double taxation treaty with Italy) are in force. Furthermore there is neither any withholding tax imposed on dividends, nor any CFC or thin capitalization rules are applicable. A favorable tax system along with excellent infrastructure, serious regulators, state of the art infrastructure, an extensive treaty network, highly qualified professionals who are fluent in a number of languages and a business friendly atmosphere have raised Malta’s reputation beyond its relative small size, truly placing itself as a jewel in the Mediterranean.
Do you want to know more details on the above? Feel free to contact Ian Gauci or me, Giulio Coraggio.
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Tuesday, May 11, 2010
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As anticipated in a previous post, the lawfulness of gaming terminals (the so called "totem") installed in public places (e.g. coffee and tabacco shops, department stores etc.) connecting to online gaming websites (including licensed websites) has been the topic of long debates during the last years. Indeed, some online gaming operators base most of their business on totems located in shops and this circumstance generated considerable complaints from other operators arguing that the online offer of games should be only "online". 
Totems have been highly criticised also because they are the main source of illegal activities as shop assistants in some cases collect bets on behalf of their clients and place them through totems located in their shops. Such practice is in contrast with Italian criminal laws that prohibit the intermediation in the offer of games; only betting shops holding a gaming license issued by the Italian gaming authority can collect bets from players. 
The outcome of this long dispute has been the issue by the Italian Gaming Authority of a Circular Bulletin where it clarified that totems are prohibited and can be installed only for the offer of fixed odd betting games following an express authorization from the Authority.
This regulatory change should be welcomed by new entrants in the market that will be able to shortly apply for an Italian online gaming license. In fact, the competition in the Italian online gaming market will occur online and therefore foreign operators will not have to bear the considerable costs connected to the setting up of a network of shops.  
Need to know more information about the Italian gaming market? Do you want to apply for an Italian gaming license? Feel free to contact me, Giulio Coraggio.
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Friday, May 7, 2010
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The Italian Gaming Authority has finally declared that the testing phase relating to videolotteries (VLTs) is now over. After the long wait, licensees will be shortly entitled to install up to 56,697 VLTs awarding maximum wins up to € 500,000 which is a massive change for a country where there are only 4 "real" casinos (that were obviously among the major oppenents of VLTs) and criminal laws prohibit the opening up of new casinos.
This represents a relevant opportunity for:
  • gaming operators and managers since they will be able to set up VLT casinos reproducing the "look and feel" of real casinos and, if this business model is succesful, Italian players are likely to prefer VLT casinos located close to their cities to real casinos that are all located in the North of Italy; 
  • VLT and games manufacturers as it can be confirmed by the last deals advertised on the press; and 
  • providers of services connected to VLT casinos reproducing in some ways the same approach adopted in Las Vegas where casinos are surrounded by a number of side-offered services (e.g. hotels, restaurants, theatres, shopping malls etc.).
The market is still to be created and it will be very interesting to see who will be its main actors. 
Interested in more information on the Italian VLT market? Do you want to know the applicable regulatory requirements? Feel free to contact me, Giulio Coraggio.  
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Wednesday, May 5, 2010
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As it was foreseeable after the clearance from the European Commission on the decree setting the new licensing regime in Italy, the EC has now decided to close a number of cases relating to Italian gambling laws.  
The European Commission had challenged the compliance with the EU principle of freedom to provide services of some restrictions prescribed by Italian gaming laws against foreign operators. Indeed, the old regime required that operators holding an Italian online gaming license had to locate their servers and their company in Italy. On the contrary, as stressed in a previous post, this obligation has now been removed and operators applying for an Italian gaming license will be entitled to locate their legal seat and equipment in any country of the European Economic Area, or in any other country that will enter into bilateral agreements with the Italian Gaming Authority. 
In other words, while operators will still need an Italian license to offer their games to Italian residents, they will be able to keep their infrastructure in their country of origin with obvious consequential tax advantages.
This appears to be the end of a long saga that saw a number of disputes before the European Court of Justice in relation to the compliance of the Italian gaming law regime with EU principles and this circumstance might be a further factor boosting the growth of the Italian gaming market.
Do you want to know more about the above? Are you interested in applying for an Italian gaming license? Fee free to contact me, Giulio Coraggio
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