As previously mentioned, new Italian new online bingo regulations had been notified and approved by the European Commission even if they have not yet come into force. However, a further step forward has been achieved now. AAMS published the draft version of the protocol of communication for the new bingo subject to a consultation.
There will be a consultation period lasting up to the 22nd of February 2013 when operators can file questions, requests of clarifications and comments and it is likely that operators will be able to launch the new bingo before the summer 2013.
This regulatory change will be crucial for the future of the Italian online bingo market. The main current problem in the Italian online bingo market is given indeed by the fact that online bingo regulations have been drafted on the basis of land-based bingo regulations and therefore they are very restrictive. The game is handled by the IT company of the gambling authority, SOGEI, which issues both the tickets and the numbers. Under this scenario the platform of operators becomes a mere skin of SOGEI's portal without allowing any flexibility in the offering of the games. The consequence of the above is that currently bingo is a mere ancillary game on Italian licensed platforms and, with exception of some operators, quite a limited number of licensees have substantially invested in this market which explains why the data of the Italian gaming market relating to year 2012 show a reduction in the spending in the online bingo market equal to 22.1%.
On the contrary, the new bingo regulations will allow operators to offer the same bingo variants available on foreign gambling platforms making the game much more attractive for players. Furthermore the recent launch of slot games which are usually side games of bingo platforms and enjoy a much lower taxation might trigger a very successful synergy. However, it will be decisive that regulators understand the need to lower the taxation for bingo games as otherwise the offering of foreign platforms will still remain more attractive than the one of Italian licensed platforms since operators will be entitled to offer a higher pay-out.
In any case, the success of the online bingo market and in general of the Italian online market as a whole will depend on the outcome of the fight against non-Italian licensed operators. Indeed, the current domain name filtering system implemented by AAMS showed not to be sufficiently effective and more stringent measures should be taken such as the monitoring of financial transactions to non-licensed websites that is already prescribed by primary laws but has never been implemented by AAMS and the IP blocking of non-Italian licensed websites that has been recently adopted against websites broadcasting football matches in breach of applicable copyright laws and showed to be an effective tool.
If the conditions mentioned above will be met, the new bingo regulations are likely to considerably boost the Italian bingo market and the success achieved by a few operators that decided to invest in this market shows that it has considerable potentials. Also, if the size of the Italian black market will be reduced and the new bingo regulations will be shortly adopted, it is likely that the € 42 million spending of the Italian online bingo market in 2012 will considerably increase in 2013.
As usual, if you want more details on the above, feel free to contact me, Giulio Coraggio.