The EGBA said it is “deeply concerned” by the proposed Italian decree on online gambling. The decree is currently being debated by Italy’s council of ministers – the country’s principal executive organ.
According to reports, the decree could set a new €7m (£6.02m/$7.67m) licence fee for operators. EGBA pointed out that this would represent a 35-fold increase on the 2018 licence fee of €200,000. It would also triple the government’s previously planned increase to €2.5m, which was never implemented.
EGBA said that the proposed licence fee could generate €105m-€140m for the state. The association added that the previously proposed €2.5m fee could yield a “similar or higher tax revenue”.
However, EGBA warned that the proposed law would slash the number of licensed operators from 91 to 15-20.
Accordingly, EGBA is calling for a rethink over an “unprecedented” and “unwarranted” proposed fee “far surpassing other EU Member States.”
The association said today: “EGBA stresses that this significant licence fee hike will have severe consequences. The high fee will deter new market entrants and likely force existing licensees, especially smaller operators, out of the market.”
EGBA added: “[The decree would lead to a] significant increase in the size of the country’s online gambling black market.
“The primary goal of Italy’s gambling regulation should be the protection of players and fostering a fair and competitive market. Thus, EGBA urgently calls upon the council of ministers to reconsider the proposed punitive increase in licence fees.
“By limiting competition to only a few operators… the proposal risks undermining player protection.”
The association also suggested that the “introduction of (quasi) prohibitive licensing regimes and fees” could raise EU law compliance concerns. The association also took the opportunity to reiterate its opposition to a blanket gambling advertising ban in the country.
EGBA previously spoke out after a report in October stated that Italians spend €25bn annually on black market gambling websites.
“The existing advertising ban… should be revoked to allow regulated advertising that protects minors and vulnerable groups,” EGBA stated today.
However, EGBA added that it is committed to working with the Italian authorities to develop a sustainable licence fee framework.
EGBA secretary-general Maarten Haijer said Italy is in danger of sparking an “exodus of existing licensees”.
“Together with the other restrictions… this proposed fee hike will make Italy a closed shop,” he said.
“We urge the council of ministers to reconsider the proposal. It will make the country’s online gambling black market problem even worse, not better.” Italy’s online gambling black market is one of the largest in Europe, valued at more than €1bn annually, EGBA added.