Gambling

The EGBA Suggests Italy’s Planned iGaming Reforms May Violate EU Laws

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Posted on: December 21, 2023, 06:58h. 

Last updated on: December 21, 2023, 06:58h.

The European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA) has issued a strongly worded statement expressing its deep concerns regarding Italy’s proposed online gambling reforms. The message follows shortly after Italian trade groups voiced their concerns over the measures, as well.

The Italian flag in front of the Victor Emmanuel II National Monument in Rome
The Italian flag in front of the Victor Emmanuel II National Monument in Rome. Controversial iGaming reforms are fueling harsh criticisms. (Image: MixKit)

The decree, which is currently under consideration by the Italian Council of Ministers, proposes a number of significant changes to the country’s online gambling regulations. One of the biggest changes is a steep licensing fee of €7 million (US$7.66 million).

In its statement, the EGBA asserts that the proposed fee is “unwarranted and unprecedented” in Europe. The European gaming trade group goes so far as to suggest that it might violate European laws.

Italy’s Unjustifiable Reforms

The EGBA argues that the fee structure would be “unjustifiably high” compared to previous fees for Italian online gambling licenses. These have ranged from €200,000 to €2.5 million (US$218,980 to $2.73 million).

The EGBA maintains that the proposed fee will have “severe consequences” for the Italian online gambling market. As others have suggested, it could hinder market growth and ultimately drive operators out of the country.

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 licence,” stated Maarten Haijer, Secretary General of the EGBA. “Together with the other restrictions in its gambling 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.”

The EGBA’s concerns extend beyond the proposed fee structure. The association also criticizes the decree’s provisions for an advertising ban on online gambling, arguing that it would stifle competition and hinder operators from reaching their target audience.

The EGBA also advocates for a regulated and symmetrical advertising framework. It wants Italy to consider guidance that can protect minors and vulnerable groups while also allowing licensed operators to market their services effectively.

EGBA Ready to Assist

The EGBA’s call to action for the Italian Council of Ministers is clear. It must reconsider the proposed decree and adopt a more balanced approach to online gambling regulations.

The group reiterated previous concerns that Italy is losing over €1 billion (US$1.09 billion) a year to unregulated and unlicensed gambling. Raising the fee to €7 million will only “make this situation worse, not better, with grave implications for the protection of Italian players.”

The regulations must prioritize market competitiveness, player protection and compliance with EU law. If Italian legislators need help drafting viable language, the EGBA is willing to work collaboratively with Italian authorities to achieve this goal.

The EGBA’s intervention is a significant step in the ongoing debate surrounding Italy’s online gambling regulations. The association’s position, backed by its extensive experience and expertise in the European gambling market, will hopefully carry considerable weight.

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