ltaly’s new draft gambling law in reality changes very little
Legislator focuses on combating illegal operators
A new law is going to be enacted (Legge Delega) in the next six to eight months, which will redefine the perimeter of gambling regulation in Italy.
The aim of the law is to sort out public gaming in the country and to harmonise regional and national regulation that will have to be issued pursuant to the primary interest of public order and safety, as well as balancing the more general interest of protecting vulnerable people. The provisions are intended to strengthen the fight against operators offering gaming without valid italian authorisation. The regulations and provisions that are going to be enacted have to be pursuant to European case law, EU Treaty principles and regulations. A draft version of the law was published recently, but it can still be modified before being examined by the Parliament.
The main parts of the draft law
Article 4 establishes a permanent technical committee that will evaluate Italian legislation and elaborate on information concerning the dynamics of the gaming industry, as well as the development of new proposals addressed to the Government. Al of the current land based licences will expire on 30 June 2016. The new law provides that the Agenzia delle dogane e dei Monopoli ( ADM) shall issue a new tender for the expiring licences during the coming year. The assigned operators will be authorised to operate online gambling activities, as they are today.
Article 18 of the draft provides the regulations for online operators. When the ADM issues the new tender, the requirements for participating will be similar to those provided by the previous law. Article 25 of the draft agreement on anticipated expiry introduces a new and interesting aspect: in case of excessive financial burdens resulting from unpredictable changes in the target market or in the relevant regulatory framework, the operator may be required by the ADM to agree to an earlier expiry date for the licence and the consensual resolution of the license agreement. In this case, the ADM is still required to verify, according to the licensee, conditions and terms for a possible rebalancing of the licence.
Article 27 of the draft “Amicable settlement agreement” envisages another new aspect: it provides for an amicable settlement of disputes to be carried out before going to Court, for disputes between the ADM and operators, or players and the ADM. The term for concluding the amicable procedure is fixed at a maximum of 60 days.
Section IX of the draft law is dedicated to marketing. Article 31 provides for a ban on all advertising of brands and/or products relating to gaming, by all kinds of operators offering gaming without a valid Italian authorisation. Article 32 envisages provisions on the limitation of advertising, in order to comply with the principles of transparency, responsibility and the protection of minors. Operators will be required to enter into an agreement with suppliers who advertise on websites to ensure that the contents are not contrary to human dignity. Other provisions on marketing remain the same as are currently in force in Italy.
Chapter IX, Article 102 lists all the games authorised in Italy, which remain the same as those being offered currently: betting on sport and horseracing events, betting on simulated events, skill games, games of chance with fixed odds, card games not organised as tournaments, remote fixed-odds betting on sporting and non-sporting events with direct interaction between gamblers, lotteries, bingo and other bingo formula and gaming machines.
The provisions in force relating to anti-money laundering (“AML”) remain. All operators must comply with these provisions. The Government is paying attention to AML and will look to further strengthen AML policy. In Italy money laundering is a criminal offence – as per Article 648 bis of the Criminal Code. Gaming operators are required to comply with specific provisions for the prevention and detection of money laundering, pursuant to Legislative Decree 231/07. All provisions, recalled by the draft law, will remain in force.
Online gambling in Europe is characterised by a diversity of regulatory frameworks. Italy’s new draft law changes very little. In the new tender of 2016 there could be a dedicated section for online operators, as all of the so-called Bersani Licences expire. Such as it is the draft does not introduce any special restrictions or new commitments for online operators. It seems that the Legislator has focused its attention on land based operators and on the fight against illegal operators running gaming businesses in Italy without a licence. It should however be remembered that the draft can still be amended and modified before being issued, but it is certainly indicative of where the Legislator’s attention is currently focused in regards to gambling.