The current Italian political uncertainty raised considerable questions as to the future of the Italian gaming sector given the pending issues to be sorted.
The political situation and its impact on the Italian gaming sector
After the negative outcome of the Italian constitutional referendum, the Italian prime minister decided to resign generating a chaos as to what’s going to happen in the coming months. The Italian tender for betting shops licenses as well as the tender for online gaming and betting licenses are just a few of the open issues in the Italian gaming sector that have been waiting for a response from the Government.
However, given the upcoming political commitments, the Italian President of the Republic has already identified a new prime minister who in turn has selected the new ministries. And the good news, at least from the outset, is that Mr. Padoan will remain the Italian finance minister.
This circumstance could be positive for the gaming sector since it means that it will ensure continuity on the current discussions relating to the gaming sector. But, given that this is going to be a “transitional” government aimed at setting the rules for new elections, it would be surprising if it takes any “difficult” decision, including those affecting the gaming sector.
The tender for online gaming and betting licenses
I am quite optimistic on the timing of the tender for online gaming and betting licenses. The licenses of some of the current online operators in the market expired 5 months ago and the regulator was forced to automatically extend them up to the new tender, which led to a delay/loss in tax entries as they would have paid the price for the new licenses months ago. Likewise, there are operators at the door which are currently prevented to get a license and to get into the market to generate new tax entries. Therefore, I don’t expect major further delays in relation to the tender for online licenses.
The tender for betting shop licenses
The discussion is more complicated in relation to the the tender for betting shop licenses. Indeed, the first insights on the tendering rules had been published some time ago, but the main issue to be solved is the agreement between the government and the municipalities on the location and time of operation of gaming halls and betting shops. This problem was meant to be sorted by April 2016, but – given its sensitiveness – it is still on the table. And without the resolution of this issue, the tender for betting shop licenses cannot be launched as none would bid for licenses without knowing the rules on where shops can be located.
My personal feeling is that the tender for betting shop licenses will be launched only after the new elections that should take place by mid-2017 at the latest and therefore some of the issues of the Italian gaming sector might have to wait up until then. However, I would be very happy if I am wrong!
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