The Italian parliament has given the green light to a new tax delegation law allowing for the long-awaited reorganisation of the country's gambling sector, including changes to all tax duties and new player protection measures.
According to a decree issued on Monday (August 7), the Ministry of Economy and Finance has already appointed a commission of legal and tax experts to take charge of the initiative, coordinated by Mario Lollobrigida, the head of gaming at the Italian regulator, the Agency of Customs and Monopolies (ADM).
By September 20, a draft of the legislative decrees will be sent to a general committee chaired by treasury deputy minister Maurizio Leo.
The government is expected to take 18-24 months to draft and complete the executive decrees and even more time to set up a new regime and issue the tender notices for the new gambling concessions.
Roberto Alesse, managing director of the ADM, told the Italian press that the new law is “an extraordinary legislative opportunity to put in order a series of matters that impact the lives of citizens and the entire gambling industry”.
"We also must verify the way gambling business is run, to improve the protection of players,” he said.
Under the proposed changes, gambling venue approvals will be awarded via a state concession model. It will also attempt to clear up the current diversity of distance rules that affect outlets across the country.
Proposed changes to player protection measures include reduced limits for stakes and winnings, mandatory continuous training for concessionaires, dealers and operators, strengthening of self-exclusion mechanisms, and a betting ban on underage sports competitions.
This is the fourth attempt to reform the Italian market. The first three failed because of political issues or opposition from the public.
Alesse also spoke on the issue of regional regulations: "Local authorities, together with the ADM, will contribute to identifying 'sensitive' areas in which gambling must be kept at a minimum distance to protect the most exposed categories."
Venues are supposed to be located at least between 200m and 500m away from “sensitive” locations such as schools and hospitals, depending on local regulations.
The new law would establish uniform rules, including on distance, for the entire country.
Alesse praised the value of the gambling sector, adding that it brought in about €11bn for the government annually and provided regular employment for around 150,000 workers.
The national reform plan builds on the concession extensions approved in the Stability Law: online gaming, gaming machines, betting, and bingo concessions that will stay in effect up to December 31, 2024.
Italy’s government has been under pressure to reform the system after the entire concept of concessions extensions was called into question by a recent Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) ruling (n. C 517/20).
Despite the impact of the long gaming outlet lockdown in 2020 and 2021, the Italian market continued its growth.
In 2022, gross gaming revenue increased by 31 percent to €19.6bn, while tax revenues increased by 28 percent to €11.2bn.