The European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA) has voiced its concerns regarding Italy’s proposed decree on online gambling. Currently under discussion by the Council of Ministers, the decree would bring about significant changes to the gambling sector, such as alterations to licence fees, the introduction of stricter licensing regulations, and additional fees.
The EGBA expresses apprehension that these changes would necessitate an investigation to ensure Italy’s compliance with EU law. Maarten Haijer, EGBA Secretary General, emphasizes that the proposed increase in licensing fees is extraordinary and unprecedented. If passed, it would make Italy the most expensive European country in which to obtain an online gambling licence.
Haijer further warns that along with other restrictions on the Italian gambling market, such as a ban on local advertising, the proposed fee hike would close Italy off to new market players and cause existing licensees to leave. This raises concerns regarding compliance with EU law.
The EGBA argues that the new decree might raise the licence fee from €200,000 ($219,377) to a staggering €7m, despite a previous proposal rejecting an increase to €2.5m. One major concern is the pervasive presence of illegal gambling in Italy, estimated to be worth over €1bn annually. Illegal sites provide no player protection. In addition to their concerns over Italy, the EGBA has also urged France to legalize online casino games in order to prioritize player safety.