The Italian gaming law regime after considerable court cases is now eventually upheld by the Italian Administrative Supreme Court in a dispute relating to a so called ‘centro trasmissione dati‘ or ‘CTD‘.
I have discussed in several posts about CTDs which are something quite unique in the gaming law environment. These are Internet cafes located in Italy operated as betting shops on the basis of the foreign EU gaming license relying on the European principle of freedom of services. This unusual situation led to considerable court cases including a number of gaming law cases before the European Court of Justice.
In this last dispute the court of first instance had upheld the request of a foreign licensed operator to obtain the so called police authorization which is a gaming law requirement necessary to run a betting shop. However, the Administrative Supreme Court (the so called ‘Consiglio di Stato’) held as part of an interim procedure that the “double” gaming law regime introduced in Italy that for betting shops requires to hold a gaming license issued by the Italian gambling regulator, AAMS, as a condition to obtain the police authorization to operate the shop is in compliance with EU principles. Therefore the foreign licensed operator cannot operate his CTD in the country, but shall apply for an Italian gaming license.
This decision comes after several decisions with different outcomes on the matter that had created a situation of uncertainty on the matter. And, this is despite of the recent court decisions of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) that had validated the Italian gaming law regime.
Indeed several operators are trying to rely on gaming law decisions adopted by the European Court of Justice with reference to the UK bookmaker StanleyBet that in several instances have been confirmed by Italian Courts. However, even if a consistent approach was not adopted especially by lower courts on the possibility to apply the same principles to other operators, the general understanding is that the situation affecting StanleyBet was very peculiar and cannot be replicated in relation to other operators unless they are able to raise similar arguments.
And also the situation affecting StanleyBet itself is still unclear. Indeed assuming that their right to operate without an Italian gaming law license has been validated by courts, it is uncertain whether will pay Italian gaming duties as prescribed by a recent law also for non Italian licensed operators.
The new approach of Italian authorities is indeed to challenged to non-Italian licensed operators targeting Italian players the lack of payment of gaming taxes rather than the absence of the gaming law license which can lead to disputes. Also, among the measures that will be adopted by means of the implementing decrees of the so called ‘Delega Fiscale’ law, stronger sanctions against foreign licensed operators are expected to come into force also with reference to the online sector. And the recent change of the Ministry in charge of the gaming sector might further foster such development.