Italy's Far Right Swing Expected To Benefit Gambling Industry

October 4, 2022
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Election victory for Italy’s right-wing alliance will likely see Giorgia Meloni of the fascist-linked Brothers of Italy installed as the country’s first female Prime minister, but will also usher in a new era for the gambling industry.

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Election victory for Italy’s right-wing alliance will likely see Giorgia Meloni of the fascist-linked Brothers of Italy installed as the country’s first female Prime minister, but will also usher in a new era for the gambling industry.

Brothers of Italy (Fratelli d’Italia), along with populist right-wing party Lega and Silvia Berlusconi’s Forza Italia, are set to form a three-party coalition to take control of the Italian parliament.

The three parties have a recent history of supporting protections for the gambling industry through the pandemic and are expected to continue to give the sector strong backing.

A shift to the right broadly augurs an improving political overall situation for the industry in Italy, especially considering that the previous administration was dominated by the anti-gambling 5Star Movement, the architects of the Italian gambling advertising ban.

The young and ambitious Treasury undersecretary with responsibility for gaming, Federico Freni, has clearly said he wants to stay in his current role. His goal is to complete his plan for a reorganisation of the land-based sector that has only been drafted so far.

Less secure is the head of the gambling regulator, the Agency of Customs and Monopolies (ADM), as vultures swoop towards chairman Marcello Minenna.

His three-year contract will not expire until the start of 2023, but after a new government is formally approved in Italy, with a vote expected towards the end of October, the start of a 90-day “spoil system” will allow the new administration to nominate appointees to top appointments in the civil service, including the heads of the tax agencies such as the ADM.

Although Minenna reached the summit of the ADM in very different political circumstances, he has established a positive reputation and therefore it is not certain he will be forced out.

Substantial changes will also come to the cabinet of the Ministry of Economy, a crucial office for the gaming industry over the next five years.

A decree in the meantime

Even before the new government takes office, a key step for the gambling industry has been taken with the publication in the official gazette of a long-awaited betting decree.

From October 28, Italian bookmakers will finally be able to roll out several new features, including Asian handicap betting and the ability to allow punters to cash out after bets are placed.

Workarounds for cash-outs through bet insurance have been available before, but the new regulations will ensure they can be regulated consistently.

The new decree, written by the Ministry of Economy, offers several unexpected benefits both to new entrants and existing licensed bookmakers, introducing a €50,000 winning cap at five times the current limit and a “palpable error” clause that will provide a necessary way out of the problem of mistakes in listing odds, which has cost Italian bookmakers substantial amounts of money in recent years.

Under the current rules, if an Italian bookmaker incorrectly publishes odds and keeps on accepting bets against that price, then it is compelled to pay all of the winnings generated by the incorrect odds.

The change is clear in the decree’s wording: “ADM will calculate the fair odds and the resulting winnings which must be paid to players.” However, to become effective the new rules have to be clarified in a follow-up ADM decree.

Maximum winnings will also increase significantly from €10,000 to €50,000. The minimum stake is set at 5 cents, the minimum bet will be €1.

The new regulations were well received by operators. According to Massimo Temperelli, Sisal's betting managing director, the cash-out change "will increase the enjoyment of the public" and will stimulate a "responsible attitude of the player, who could decide not to 'risk' more: he will earn less, but actually has a better chance of winning".

Agostino Romano, chief retail operations at Snaitech, said: "The decree will allow the Italian operators to compete with the international market, also developing the responsible gaming and tackling the illegal business."

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