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Sunday, March 27, 2011
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After the final approval of the decree regulating the issue of new Italian gaming licenses and of the decree on casino and cash poker games, here are the final FAQs to help operators willing to apply for one of the Italian online gaming licenses:

Q. - Why do I need an Italian gaming license to enter into the Italian gaming market? My company already holds a foreign gaming license, what are the benefits of an Italian gaming license?
The offer of games to Italian residents without an Italian gaming license is subject to criminal sanctions and, as the recent Betfair case proves, AAMS is adopting a more stringent approach against non-licensed websites.

Q. - Do I need that my company is established in Italy or that the servers are located in Italy to apply for an Italian gaming license?
No, the operator and its servers can be located in any country of the European Economic Area which include Gibraltar. On the contrary, it will not be possible to keep the company and infrastructure in non-EU countries like Alderney and the Isle of Man.
The above leads to considerable tax savings as the operator shall pay only Italian gaming taxes, but it shall not pay Italian corporate taxes.

Q. - What is the turnover of the Italian gaming market?
Read this article on the topic "Italian Online Gaming Market: 2010 data".

Q. - Ok, can apply for a license NOW?
Yes! The decree on the new licenses has been just published. 200 new remote licenses are now available, but applying companies should hurry up as the licenses will be available only up to the 31st of December 2011. Subsequently, it will be necessary the approval of a new law regulating the issue of new licenses.

Q. - Ok, so I have plenty of time to apply for a license.
Operators have time up to the 31st of December to apply for a license, but if operators want to benefit of the casino games market, they should hurry up. The decree of cash poker games and casino games has been recently approved, but the current operators will be able to launch them only after the upgrade of their current license to the new licensing regime.
Consequently, a completely new market is about to open up and a delay in the entrance in the Italian gaming market can oblige operators to bear relevant investments to catch up.

Q. Let's speak about technical issues, I have heard that operators have to comply with stringent technical requirements.
This is true, but especially in case of casino games the problem can be overcome using the platform and games that the software provider has already certified.

Q. - Final question: Taxes
The gaming duty varies depending on the type of game involved. For instance in case of cash card games and casino games it will be 20% of the revenues, while in case of skill games (including online poker tournament) it is 3% of the turnover.

If you are interested in entering into the Italian gaming market or you have additional questions, feel free to contact me, Giulio Coraggio.
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Wednesday, March 9, 2011
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The Italian Gambling Authority (AAMS) has now published the decree on the new Italian remote gaming licenses (the so called "Comunitaria Decree") that also regulates the upgrade of the current licenses.
We expect that AAMS will publish tomorrow the implementing decrees on the its website.
This is a great news as the publication of the Comunitaria Decree starts the process necessary for the launch of casino games and cash poker games.
Once the current operators have completed the upgrade of their license to the requirements prescribed by the Comunitaria Decree they will be able to launch casino games and cash poker games.
I will follow up with an update on the matter when the implementing decrees will be published. In the meantime if you want further updates, feel free to contact me, Giulio Coraggio.
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Tuesday, March 8, 2011
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The Italian Gaming Authority has published the data of January 2011 on the Italian gaming market. With no surprise for operators, the Italian videolottery market has seen a major boost with a turnover of € 555 millions which is quite impressive if compared to the previous month where the turnover was of € 450 millions.
Videolotteries (VLTs) are likely to be considered the biggest change in the Italian gaming market of the last years. Indeed, in a country where there are only four “real” casinos, and criminal laws prohibit the establishment of new casinos, we have seen from mid-June 2010 the opening up of a considerable number of “VLT casinos” (i.e. gaming halls where VLTs will be located), where the current ten licensees (and their partners) are entitled to install up to 56,697 VLTs able to award prizes up to € 500,000.
To understand the potential size of this market, it is sufficient to mention that investments of over € 2 billion are expected to be made in the VLT sector during the start-up period, generating yearly revenues for operators and entries for the government higher than € 1 billion and more, and more investments are expected in 2011 from additional licensees.
These figures and a relatively friendly tax regime show the potential of VLTs in Italy, which will be installed only in bingo halls, betting shops and gaming halls according to the decree regulating the sector that - on the contrary - did not prescribe any limitation as to the areas where VLT casinos can be located.
The Italian VLT market can become a very attractive target for:
  • machines and game manufacturers and suppliers;
  • casino operators; and
  • providers of services connected to VLT casinos (i.e., hotels, restaurants concerts, etc.).
Indeed - as confirmed by the recent deals between gaming machine manufacturers and licensees - it appears that the current VLT licensees are mainly looking at foreign VLT suppliers coming from markets like the U.S., where VLTs are very common, to furnish Italian VLT casinos and to try to reproduce therein the “look and feel” of real casinos. Likewise, since there are so far only four “real” casinos in Italy, VLT licensees do not have the expertise necessary to run VLT casinos - which in their minds will have to recall the look and feel of traditional casinos - and therefore are hiring foreign casino managers and entering into agreements with foreign casino operators.
Moreover, VLT licensees are developing franchising formats to be reproduced all over the country, coupling them with additional services (hotels, restaurants, concerts, etc.) able to better host tourists that will have a further reason to visit Italy. In this context it is useful to mention that it is not necessary a license to operate a VLT gaming hall, but casino operators might merely partner with the current licensees.
The above might represent a massive opportunity for gaming operators that might bring their know-how into the Italian market.
Do you want to discuss about the above? Feel free to contact me, Giulio Coraggio.
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