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A new Italian gaming revolution after the approval of budget law!


A new Italian gaming revolution after the approval of budget law!

A revolution for the horse betting sector and an extension of betting shop and bingo hall licenses among the gaming related changes provided by the Italian budget law.

As it happens almost every year, the Italian budget law introduced considerable changes for the gaming sector that can summarized as follows:

Tender for betting shop and bingo licenses postponed

I discussed in several posts about the tender for new Italian betting shop and corner licenses which are meant to replace all the existing licenses. This was initially delayed because of the negotiations between the Government and municipalities on the time of operation and the distance from sensitive locations of betting shops and gaming halls. An agreement was reached in September 2017 on the matter, but – in order to enable local municipalities to change their laws to get them compliant with such agreement – the budget law now provides that

  • The existing betting shop and corner licenses are extended up to 31 December 2018 against the payment of an annual extension fee of € 6,000 per each betting shop and of € 3,500 per each betting corner and
  • A new tender for betting shop and corner licenses is launched by 30 September 2018 with the goal of collecting a total amount of at least € 410 millions.

Likewise, bingo hall licenses are going to be awarded by means of a tender to be launched by 30 September 2018, but in the meantime bingo halls shall pay a monthly fee of € 7,500.

GGR horse betting tax

Horse betting has always been part of the Italian tradition, but a turnover based tax regime had led to its rapid decline. The budget law now provides for the introduction with effect from 1 January 2018 of the new horse betting tax that will be

  • 43% of the gross gaming revenue for land based horse bets and
  • 47% of the gross gaming revenue for online horse bets.

These percentages are considerably higher than those provided for sportsbetting which are respectively 18% and 22% of the GGR. And indeed, the budget law provides that if after 12 months from the effective date of this new tax regime, tax entries result to be higher than what provided by the current regime, the Ministry of Finance can propose a reduction of the applicable tax.

Liberalization of horse betting offering

As it used to be in the past for sportsbetting, also the horse betting offering in Italy was restricted to the official list of bets and events published by the Italian gaming authority, ADM. However, the budget law provides for the issue by ADM within 90 days of a decree regulating the full liberalization of the horse betting offering.

Given the rapid growth of the Italian gaming market after the liberalization of the sportsbetting offering, this is a very good news for the sector.

Also, the budget law provides for changes to be introduced to horse betting totalizator games in order to align their offering to the other totalizator games currently regulated.

Setting up of registry of gaming distributors and hall managers

In order to further enhance the transparency in the Italian gaming sector, it is provided by the Italian budget law the setting up of a registry of gaming distributors and hall managers. Indeed, such entities do not have to hold a gaming license under Italian law, but just enter into an agreement with a so called “concessionaire” i.e. entities holding a gaming network license enabling the communication between gaming machines and the servers of the gaming authority.

It is not clear how much different this registry will have to be from the existing registry, but the enrolment does not seem a burdensome obligation.

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Giulio Coraggio

I am the head of the Italian Technology sector and the global head of the IoT and Gaming and Gambling groups at the world leading law firm DLA Piper. Top global IoT influencer and FinTech lover, finding solutions to what's next for our clients' success.