Italy has announced plans to cut the number of online gambling licences in the market from 120 to just 40, while also planning to raise licence fees.
Unlike the fixed fee model adopted across the rest of the EU, Italy plans to put these 40 licenses up for auction to inflate the price. According to the draft the aim is to increase the cost of licenses 10-fold – to at least E2.5m a pop. The proposal would take effect from 1 January 2023, at the end of the current licensing term, and apply for nine years.
However the government faces challenges to its proposal from stakeholders, who argue that such a high concession fee “coupled with the drastic reduction of the number of online gambling licensees” would be a major barrier to a well functioning market.
Firms represented by the European Gaming Betting Association are hoping recourse to the EU level will help to have the tender process revised. Contrary to the requirements of the so-called notification directive (a process which is intended to ensure that proposed national laws are in full compliance with EU law) the draft law has not yet been notified to the European Commission.
“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,” said EGBA general secretary Maarten Haijer. “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.”