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The 2022 budget law and the political status do not provide any additional tax or charge for the Italian gambling market, setting the basis for a positive new year with high expectations.
The end of the year is a pretty stressful time for operators active in the Italian gambling market. Traditionally, the Government introduced measures to increase the tax pressure on the sector to cover the need for additional funds for other areas.
The good news is that the additional sports betting tax introduced in 2020 to deal with the pandemic on a transitional basis expiring at the end of 2021 has not been extended. Furthermore, there are no hidden additional costs for operators and suppliers in the 2022 budget law usually approved during the very last days of the year.
This news shows how Italy is swaying towards a new phase of its history. The Italian Prime Minister, Mario Draghi, unveiled a budget law that relies on a solid and sustained growth in 2022, which will be at least 6% if compared to 2020. The global reputation of Mr Draghi increased the country’s international credibility, created a more stable economy and political scenario, and made Italy an exponentially attractive target for investments, also in the gambling sector. The recent acquisitions by international operators in the Italian market show that investors no longer expect draconian measures against the gaming market we experienced in the previous years. These events occur when tenders for online and land-based sports gambling and betting licenses are due in 2022.
Some operators were hoping to see a suspension of the Italian gambling advertising ban, at least for sports team sponsorships, to help the sports sector recover from the losses caused by the pandemic. However, such a measure has not been enacted because of political consensus. However, it is a matter of fact that the ban leads to a distortion of the market with an anti-competitive effect. Balanced regulations and sanctions with appropriate enforcement in case of a breach would have ensured better protection of players and set up a playfield for operators to compete. Hopefully, AgCom, the Italian Communications Authority that is in charge of enforcing the gambling advertising ban, will calibrate its actions counterbalancing regulations that have been heavily criticized.
The wind is changing in the Italian gambling market, and it is not hard to look at 2022 with an optimistic perspective.
As occurred during the last years, my law firm, DLA Piper, will publish our predictions for 2022 in the market where my department mainly operates, including the gaming and gambling sectors. Stay tuned for further updates!