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New rules on gambling vouchers in Italy need immediate action

New rules applicable to shops selling gambling vouchers in Italy are aimed at limiting the risk of illegal offering of games through these channels.

Italian players love paying with cash.  As such, several gambling operators have been relying on vouchers as a channel to perform deposits on gaming accounts in Italy.

Rules limiting the usage of gambling vouchers if players have not passed yet the anti-money laundering checks are already in place and shops selling vouchers already need to be notified to the gambling authority.

However, the gambling authority is concerned that these shops selling vouchers are operated as actual betting shops performing activities connected to the offering of games, without holding a license for that purpose.

To limit such practice, the Agenzia delle Dogane e dei Monopoli (ADM), the Italian gambling authority, published a circular addressed to the license holders imposing stricter reporting and compliance obligations in order to monitor the activities of the Italian shops selling gambling vouchers (the PVRs).

The circular lists the relevant obligations of the license holders under the terms of the license agreement entered with ADM and regulating their Italian gambling license, including the obligation to introduce measures to monitor players’ identification.  The procedures to be adopted are understood to be necessary to detect any AML irregularities, as well as reporting of offences in the case of illegal activities.

In the case of failure to adopt these procedures – in accordance with the terms of the license agreement – ADM has provided for the payment of a penalty, as well as the precautionary suspension of the license and the withdrawal of the license in the case of repeated non-compliance with these obligations.

According to the circular, ADM highlighted a list of measures aimed at monitoring the activity carried out at the PVRs in the interest of the license holders, which ADM will use to verify whether and to what extent the verification obligation provided for in the license agreement has been complied with.

Among the precautionary measures that shall be adopted by the license holders to monitor the activity carried out at the PVR shops in charge of opening the players’ gaming account and the sale of gambling vouchers, it will be necessary to, among others,:

  1. communicate the list of the PVR shops engaged to open players’ gaming account contracts and sell top-up cards, by the 10th day of the month following each quarter
  2. prohibit the opening of gaming accounts in the name of the owners of PVR shops, their family members and cohabitants, and employees;
  3. update the technical measures for geo-localizing the IP addresses used by players, in order to ensure the location of gaming operations;
  4. amend the contracts with the PVRs by including reporting obligations and termination clauses where situations of non-compliance with gambling regulations have been identified, without prejudice to the obligation to promptly notify the reporting of crimes in case of illegal activities;
  5. carry out checks on PVRs and send monthly reports to ADM, detailing any anomalies detected (including analysis of the correspondence between the IP addresses used by players and those communicated by the PVR shops, the amount of gambling transactions carried out on each gaming account opened at the PVR shops, and in particular after the purchase of top-up cards, the number of gambling vouchers sold in each PVR shops, the identification of the gaming accounts with which bets are placed on all the expected outcomes on the same event and the identification of gaming accounts with which an abnormal number of transactions are carried out in a short period of time etc..

The above-mentioned provisions apply also to operators that use distributors to market their gambling vouchers since they act on behalf of operators.  Also, the same circular emphasizes that PVRs cannot be used as channels to advertise the offering of games in breach of the Italian gambling advertising ban.

Besides, it is relevant that the circular does not provide for a transitional period.  As such, immediate actions need to be performed.

Photo by Christiann Koepke on Unsplash

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Vincenzo Giuffré

Lawyer at DLA Piper IPT Italy, Milan| Gambling and Gaming Sector| eSports, Media, Sports and Entertainment | Bocconi University | University of Minnesota - W. Mondale Law School | Visiting Student at National University of Singapore (NUS)
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