The EGBA has warned that plans to reduce the number of Italian igaming licences and increase fees risks causing a surge in illegal gambling.
Italy.- The European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA) has warned that plans to slash the number of online gambling licences in Italy while substantially increasing fees could breach EU law.
It has urged the Italian regulator, the Agenzia Delle Dogane e Dei Monopoli (ADM), to notify the European Commission of its plans for a new tender of online gambling concessions.
ADM plans to launch a new tender for nine-year online gambling concessions that would begin in 2023. However, it intends to slash the number of licensees from the current 120 to 40.
It also plans to increase the licensing fee by ten times to at least €2.5m. The final fees would be determined via an auction process rather than a fixed cost.
The EGBA has warned that the changes could cause a surge in illegal gambling on the unlicensed market in Italy.
It said in a statement: “While EGBA appreciates the discretion, within certain boundaries, of Member States to set the cost for gambling licences in their jurisdiction, this is an extremely high concession fee and, coupled with the drastic reduction of the number of online gambling licensees, would be a major barrier to a well-functioning market.
“This could potentially also, EGBA believes, weaken the viability of the country’s regulated and licensed online gambling market, in favour of unlicensed operators who can easily be found online by players in Italy.”
The EGBA said that a potential rise in gambling via unlicensed operators as a result of the changes would mean that those players would lose the safeguards of Italian consumer protection and gambling legislation, and that this would be contrary to the declared objective of Italy’s regulated online gambling market.
It has urged the ADM to send the draft law to the European Commission under EU notification directive, which is the process designed to check that national laws comply with EU law.
EGBA secretary general Maarten Haijer said: “We have asked the Italian authorities to duly notify the draft legislation to the European Commission.
“Notification is required by European law, and failure to do so will render the law inapplicable to Italian-licensed companies and its citizens. The Commission’s careful scrutiny of this proposal is needed, also to make sure that the draft legislation will not be contrary to the consumer protection objectives of the Italian online gambling legislation.”
EGBA files EU state aid complaint over German igaming tax
Last month, the EGBA filed a complaint with the European Commission arguing that Germany’s proposed 5.3 per cent tax on online slots and poker turnover constitutes illegal state aid for land-based gaming.
The trade group’s announcement comes just a day after the German industry association Deutscher Sportwettenverband (DSWV) announced that it had made a similar complaint.
Meanwhile, the EGBA has tasked an independent body to monitor member operators’ advertising campaigns against its code of conduct during the UEFA European Football Championship.
Global analytics company Nielsen will track EGBA members’ advertising content and The European Advertising Standards Alliance (EASA) will monitor advertisements.