A new gaming tax regime, less AWPs, but easier homologation for AWPs (to be replaced) and VLTs, full liberalization of sports betting, CTDs and new advertising regulations are among the provisions prescribed by the draft law of implementation of the so called ‘delega fiscale’ in Italy which will set a new framework of gaming laws.
The last weeks have been very busy with a new version of the draft law available every other day and the battle is not over. But below is brief outline of the top 5 changes which are likely to come into force:
1. New gaming tax regime
The turnover based tax regime has been a major issue in Italy so far. However, the Government is planning to introduce a GGR tax regime across all the games both land based and online with different rates depending on the type of game involved and a contribution to marketing campaigns against gambling addiction. This is expected to be a massive change for VLTs, sportsbetting, bingo and poker tournament whose growth has been restricted by the current turnover based gaming tax regime.
2. Less AWPs, but easier access to AWP and VLT market
More stringent requirements will be imposed as to the features of the gaming halls and premises where AWPs and video lotteries can be installed. This might lead to a reduction of AWPs estimated in around 80K out of the current 350+K installed machines. Also, AWPs shall be replaced by the so called mini-VLTs by July 2017 which might be a major opportunity for new suppliers approaching the market.
At the same time the homologation process of AWPs and VLTs will be easier since it will no longer be handled by the regulator (Sogei), but by private certification entities as it occurs with online games. This should considerably reduce the time to market that has been a major issue so far for video lotteries, boosting a market with great potentials.
3. Full liberalization of sports betting
There are currently two different regimes for sports betting in Italy. Operators are obliged to comply both
- with the old regime requiring the certification of each event by the regulator in relation to the bets/events in the AAMS schedule and
- with the liberalized sports betting regime enabling operators to offer their customized bets and events.
The current draft law will empower the gambling regulator (AAMS) to get rid of the AAMS schedule. Therefore operators shall rely only on their customised bets. At the same time AAMS will take this opportunity to update the current regulatory framework for sports betting. These additional changes might include the setting up of rules for features such as cash-in-my-bet, the removal of a minimum value for bets and the increase of the maximum winning.
Such changes are likely to further foster the growth of the market also creating opportunities for B2B suppliers of sports betting platforms since operators shall invest on customized bets even more.
4. Authorized CTDs are here to stay
The possibility for CTDs i.e. Internet cafes connecting to foreign licensed gaming sites to get authorized in Italy and operate as official betting shops has now been validated once again by the Government. Even though some operators are likely to challenge the proceeding, it might be difficult for them to escalate the matter to the European Court of Justice before the CTDs become fully licensed in 2016 when new licenses will be issued. At the same time the draft provides for higher taxes and penalties and a full advertising ban for unauthorized shops.
5. Balanced advertising regulations
Despite of initial alarm messages, the current bill does not fully bans gaming advertising setting on the contrary clearer rules and introducing time slot restrictions. This is good news in my view since the current regulations had a numbers of areas of uncertainty.
The Government shall discuss the bill in the next days with the goal to have it coming into force from July 2015. We will see though how many new versions we shall review before the approval of the Government.