It seems that the tolerance of the Italian Gaming Authority (AAMS) to the unlawful offer of remote games to Italian residents in absence of an Italian remote gaming license has now reached an end. AAMS has challenged to Betfair Italia, the company of the Betfair group holding an Italian remote gaming license (under which it runs the website www.betfair.it) the breach of the provisions of the Italian gaming license agreement prohibiting the offer, also through affiliate companies, of games to Italian residents in breach of Italian law. Indeed, Italian law allows the offer of remote games to Italian residents only under an Italian gaming license.
However, despite of the applicable sanctions, apparently Betfair was still offering its games to Italian residents through its www.betfair.com website that is not operated under an Italian license. The gaming license agreement entered by Betfair Italia with AAMS entitles the latter, in case of performance of the challenged conduct mentioned above, to first issue a precautionary suspension of the license and to subsequently terminate it. Indeed, this is the course of action that AAMS is currently performing with the suspension of Betfair Italia's license for a 3 months period and the beginning of a proceeding aimed at the termination of Betfair's Italian license. Betfair tried to object to the AAMS' order of suspension challenging it before courts, but the order has been upheld first by the Administrative Court of First Instance and now by the Administrative Court of Appeal. Such double defeat might lead to the termination of Betfair's license with the consequential dramatic shutting off of the Italian Betfair website.
This dispute that is to my knowledge the first proceeding brought against a primary operator shows a new attitude by AAMS. Such circumstance coupled with new laws introduced late last year obliging operators offering games to Italian residents without an Italian gaming license to pay in any case Italian taxes on the amount unlawfully gained is likely to finally push operators to abide with the Italian licensing regime.
Needless to add that AAMS has showed a perfect timing in this case. In fact, the publication of the decree regulating the award of 200 additional remote gaming licenses is expected to occur shortly. We'll see whether after this dispute more and more operators targeting the Italian market with decide to apply for an Italian remote gaming license.
Do you want to know more about the above? Feel free to contact me, Giulio Coraggio.