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Tuesday, February 8, 2011
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The Italian Communication Authority (AGCOM) has recently published two regulations concerning (i) web-based linear audiovisual media services (such as WebTVs) and (ii) on-demand audiovisual media services broadcast on any electronic communication network.
The most relevant change introduced by the regulations is that both services are now subject to a prior authorisation from the AGCOM and therefore a number of services whose offering was not regulated so far are now subject to stringent obligations.
A number of exceptions are applicable to the prior authorization requirement (e.g. when the WebTV broadcasts no more than 24 hours per week) or falls within some maximum turnover limits. However, the applicability of the regulations also triggers some additional obligations relating to the protection of minors, advertising, programming and investment.
Do you want to know more about the above? Feel free to contact me, Giulio Coraggio.
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Monday, February 7, 2011
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After more than a year of delays, the Italian decree regulating online poker cash games and casino games has finally been published on the Italian Official Gazette and therefore has now come into force.
No real surprises have been unveiled by the decree. Indeed, as already prescribed by the previous version of the decree, subsequently challenged by Italian network provider Microgame, it introduces the following changes:
  • Tax on casino and cash poker games will be 20% of gross profits. This is an historical change for the Italian gaming market, as all the other games currently offered have a taxation regime based on turnover rather than profit. Hopefully this new tax regime will not lead to lower tax entries and convince AAMS to adopt the same mechanic also with reference to the other games
  • The percentage of bets to be returned to players through winnings will be 90%
  • The maximum initial stake during each gaming session will be €1,000
  • The maximum buy-in for poker tournaments/skill games will be €250 (it was €100)
There are very high expectations associated with the launch of these new games, especially after a tremendous 2010 which saw the Italian remote gaming market grow by 28% to reach €4.8bn in annual turnover, with the arrival of casino and cash poker offering a potential doubling of this within two years.
However, current operators shall still have to wait before being able to launch these new games. Indeed, the decrees approved by AAMS stipulate that such games can be offered only after the publication of the decree on the issuing of new licenses, and once current licences have been upgraded to the new regime.
This means that new entrants in the market might be able to compete in these new games under almost the same conditions as existing operators, provided that following the publication of the decree on the new licences (expected in the next month or so) they are fully compliant with the technical requirements prescribed by Italian law. These are of course well known to be very stringent.
In this context, potential new entrants might consider acquiring a current licensee in order to be able to go live together with the current operators, and therefore not risking any competitive disadvantage.
The Italian casino gaming market thus offers the potential to put current operators and new entrants on the same footing, but new entrants in the market will need to react quickly in order to enjoy the full benefits of this regulatory delay.
Do you want to know more about the above? Do you need legal assistance to enter into the Italian market? Feel free to contact me, Giulio Coraggio.
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Thursday, February 3, 2011
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After a never-ending waiting, the Italian casino games and cash poker games decree has been finally published on the Official Gazette and has now come into force.
In a nutshell the decree prescribes that:
  • operators need to go through an authorization process relating to their platform and each game they intend to offer;
  • the gaming tax applicable on cash games and casino games is 20% of the revenues (i.e. turnover net of amount returned to players);
  • at least 90% of the amount collected from players is allocated to the prizes;
  • the maximum initial stake cannot be higher than € 1,000.
Also, the decree increased up to € 250 the maximum buy-in for skill games (including tournament based poker games) and also allowed the organization of multilevel tournaments where the winner of a gaming session (e.g. a qualification tournament) is obliged to invest the win as a buy-in for the subsequent gaming session (e.g. the final tournament).
Hopefully with the upcoming approval of the decree on new licenses, the Italian gaming market by next spring will see a number of new entrants in the market and an offering of games equal to those currently available on .COM websites.
These events are expected to double the turnover of the Italian online gaming market and we will see whether there will be opportunities also for non-gaming operators (e.g. media, telecom, mail companies) through joint ventures with gaming operators.
Some gaming operators are currently willing to sell their company and new entrants are looking around to identify potential targets. We will see which players will lead the market.
Do you want to know more on the above? Feel free to contact me, Giulio Coraggio.
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