The Italian gaming market has suffered a period of high tension today when the Italian Parliament has approved a motion instructing the Goverment to urgently ban for 12 months both online gaming and land-based gaming systems located in public places (i.e. AWP and VLTs). However, the Ministry of Finance immediately issued a statement declaring that such motion is inapplicable and would create catastrophic consequences in terms of claims from operators, massive loss in tax entries and fostering of the gambling black market. While the political party named Lega Nord is celebrating for the victory of their motion totally ignoring its potential consequences, the Italian Ministry of Finance thoroughly explained why such motion would not be applicable.
over 200 operators obtained a gaming license lasting for a 9 years term against the payment of a relevant fee and held considerable investments which would be hampered by the ban and therefore lead to indemnity claims towards the State;
the measure might be deemed in contrast with the European principles of freedom of services and therefore challenged before the European Court of Justice as the Italian licensing regime has already experienced;
the closure of the regulated market would considerably foster the Italian gambling black market; and
the potential loss in terms of tax entries would be massive if it is considered that the tax entries from the Italian gaming market of the first 6 months of 2013 has been of € 7.5 billion.
Given the above, I am very confident that this motion will not lead to anything. And this might be also argued under a strict interpretation of the motion which refers to “gambling” rather than “public games” that are the games licensed by the State and offered by Italian licensed gaming operators.