The European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA) has expressed concerns over Italy’s decree on online gambling.
The decree is currently being discussed by the Council of Ministers and would trigger a reorganisation of the gambling sector if passed. This would include changes to the licence fees, the introduction of a prohibitive licensing regime and additional fees. The EGBA is concerned that these would require an investigation to ensure that Italy is complying with EU law.
Maarten Haijer, Secretary General of EGBA, said: “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. 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. We urge the Council of Ministers to reconsider the proposal, as it will make the country’s online gambling black market problem even worse, not better.”
The EGBA also suggested that the new decree could raise the licence fee from €200,000 ($219,377) up to €7m despite the previous proposal rejecting a raise to €2.5m.
One of the main concerns in this regard is the prevalence of black market gambling that is available in Italy. According to the EGBA, this market is valued at over €1bn annually, with illegal sites offering no protection to players.