It’s anticipated these Italian online gambling licences will be issued by the end of 2018. Online gambling with overseas brands was banned in Italy until 2009, but a 2009 EU investigation into the country’s gambling regulations resulted in a number of significant changes.
Providers of online casinos initially submitted operational bids from January 2018 to the deadline date of 20 March. And, it’s understood that the first approvals will be issued just before the Christmas holiday and will be valid until December 2022.
The Agenzia delle Dogane e dei Monopoli originally intended to issue up to 120 licences, and each applicant had to pay a non-recurring fee of €200,000. These fees were anticipated to raise around €24 million for the Italian government. Only 70 companies actually made applications, however.
This promising news for online casinos coincides with the government’s recent ban on all kinds of gambling advertising which will be in place from 1 January 2019.
The Gambling Landscape In Italy
The total ban on gambling advertising that will soon come into force means that brands will be unable to advertise on broadcast media, by way of football sponsorship, or on the internet. Although many complaints and concerns have been expressed from gambling providers and other interested parties, the ban will be effective from the New Year and is likely to cause a detrimental impact on casino revenues.
In 2016 the total gambling market in Italy achieved revenues of €96.1bn, with €19.4bn declared as pre-tax revenue for the year. Many of the licensed brands feel that advertising rights are one of the only advantages they have over rival black market casinos and that loss of advertising rights will only help to grow the black market casino brands even more.
The government will be engaging in a debate regarding the implementation of the advertising ban, but seem resolute in their decision. How this will impact the online casino brands which will shortly hit the market remains to be seen.