The European Gaming & Betting Association (EGBA) is deeply concerned about the new Italian decree on online gambling.
The decree includes provisions that will introduce a significant reorganisation of the sector, particularly regarding the cost of license fees. The introduction of (quasi) prohibitive licensing regimes and fees also raise concerns on compliance with EU law.
Reports suggest the decree sets an unprecedented €7m license fee, far surpassing other EU Member States. EGBA believes that such an increase is unwarranted. This fee represents a 35-fold increase from the 2018 license fee of €200,000 and triples the Italian authorities’ previous license fee proposal of €2.5m, which was never implemented.
EGBA believes that a high fee will deter new market entrants and likely force existing licensees out of the market. This would, EGBA believes, lead to a cut in the number of licensed operators, contributing a significant increase in the size of the online gambling black market, posing inherit risks for player protection.
Italy’s online gambling black market is already one of Europe’s largest, valued at over €1 billion annually and the fee proposal will make this situation worse, not better, with grave implications for the protection of Italian players.
The primary goal of Italy’s gambling regulation must be player protection and then fostering a fair and competitive market environment. EGBA is urgently calling upon the Council of Ministers to reconsider the proposed punitive increase in license fees.
Maarten Haijer, Secretary General, EGBA, says: “The proposed increase in licensing fees is unparalleled and unheard of, it would make Italy the most expensive country in Europe to obtain an online gambling license.
“Together with the other restrictions in its market, such as the local advertising ban, this proposed fee hike will make Italy a closed shop for new market entrants and lead to an exodus of existing licensees. This also raises concerns on compliance with EU law.
“We urge the Council of Ministers to reconsider the proposal, as it will make the country’s online gambling black market problem even worse, not better.”