Italy issues 70 new igaming licences
Italian gaming regulator Agenzia delle Dogane e dei Monopoli (ADM) has finally completed the process to award a tranche of new online gaming licences to operators, with 70 companies approved following a number of delays to the process.
Of the total number, 66 have been granted full permission to operate in the market. The final four, Scommettendo, Spati, Sogno di Tolosa and Universal Solutions, have been awarded licences with additional – unspecified conditions – attached.
The other 66 licensees includes a number of high profile international operators including The Stars Group, William Hill, Paddy Power Betfair, GVC and bet365, local land-based and online businesses, and new Scandinavian entrants such as Casumo and Videoslots.
Each licence required operators to pay a fee of €200,000 (£175,535/$226,379), with companies also required to have an existing Italian or European Union gaming licence, with turnover of at least €1.5m in the past two years. All licences are valid until December 31, 2022.
However, the final total of 70 licences falls far below the 120 licences that the Italian government had made available. It also means that ten companies either had their applications rejected or pulled out of the process, after ADM revealed in April last year that it had received 80 applications in total.
Originally scheduled to open in September 2017, the application window finally opened in January 2018, with ADM then saying in October last year that it expected to finalise the process in the coming weeks.
It was carried out against a backdrop of wholesale change, with the government introducing its so-called Dignity Decree, effectively banning all gambling advertising from January 1, 2019, in July 2018.
This was followed by a tax hike in December last year, also effective from January 1. This sees the tax on online casino and bingo increased to 25% of gross gaming revenue, with fixed odds betting tax raised to 24% of GGR. Land-based sports betting operators are now taxed at 22% of GGR, while tax on virtual sports (22%), video lottery terminals (6.75%) and amusement with prizes (18.85%) were also increased.
Despite these changes the market continues to perform well. iGamingBusiness.com's Italy dashboard, compiled with figures provided by Ficom Leisure, revealed that regulated igaming revenue rose 16.8% in 2018 to €1.53bn. The majority of this revenue (46.4%) came from online betting, followed by casino, which accounted for 41.9% of the total.