Italy falls short of iGaming licence application forecast
Italy’s gaming regulator, Agenzia delle Dogane e dei Monopoli (ADM), has received applications for only 80 iGaming licences – a full 40 short of the watchdog’s expectations for this year’s process, according to the Agimeg news website.
The ADM is likely to complete the approvals process before Christmas, with the licences set to be valid through to December 31, 2022, the report added.
The application process was launched by the ADM in January before draconian laws clamping down on gambling-related promotions and advertising were passed by the country’s new ruling party in July via the so-called ‘Dignity Decree’.
Operators were reportedly asked to fork out a one-off payment of €200,000 (£175,000, $231,000) to process their application before a deadline of March 20. A total of 70 companies applied for the 80 licences.
A spokesman for Italian gambling affiliate Casino2k told iGamingBusiness.com that the number of applications would have been even lower had the operators been aware of the impending ban on gambling advertising, which will come into force on January 1.
“If those companies knew about the current advertising regulations, there will have been less than 10 requests probably,” he said. “No one would spend money for a product that cannot be promoted to potential customers.”
LOGiCO, a trade body that represents the interests of online operators in Italy, and the European Gaming and Betting Association both criticised the move by the Italian government, while operator LeoVegas has also encouraged the government to reverse the ruling.
The Casino2k spokesman also warned of the impact the ban could have on the long-term reputation of the Italian betting and gaming market.
“If rules change so dramatically and so suddenly, no single company will be interested in investing millions of Euros in a fragile market,” he said. “That’s what is going to happen here in Italy; companies will shut down operations, legal online gambling will disappear and we will come back to a non-regulated market as it was in the early 2000s.
“The Italian government is underestimating the economic and social impact of this advertising ban; operators are just a small percentage of people and money involved in the Italian gambling industry.”
Image: Carlo Dani