Italian authorities are currently embarking on an overhaul of the country’s gambling legislation, a process that will see the number of licences reduced and licencing fees increased.

Under the proposals, the number of online gambling licences will fall from 120 to 40, and fees will rise to at least €2.5 million -10 times larger than the current figure – by 2023.

A reduction of online gambling licences had been initially proposed by the former 5Star-DP coalition government, as a draft measure attached to Italy’s ‘2020 Budget Law‘.

In a video released on the European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA) YouTube channel, EGBA General Secretary, Maarten Haijer, outlined his concerns regarding the proposals and called on Italian authorities to refer to the European Commission.

“The Italian authorities should notify the proposal to the European Commission because they are required by law – all the member states are, and Italy is as well,” he stated. “It allows scrutiny of the proposal with European law, if Italy doesn’t notify the law, it will not be applicable against operators and so cannot function. 

“Our concerns are firstly that the number of licences will be hugely reduced from 100 times to 14 licences only, and secondly that the cost of those licences will skyrocket to 10 times more expensive than now, and now we don’t really see the justification for this change or give justice. We think it may very well be counterproductive to the objectives of legislation including consumer protection.”

Additionally, Haijer highlighted potential risks relating to the Italian black market, something which the country’s leading betting and gaming figures have repeatedly raised concerns about.

Speaking at the SBC Digital Italy conference in February, Ludovico Calvi, President of the Global Lottery Monitoring System (GLMS), pointed out that legal gaming in Italy declined by 25-30% in 2020, while revenues for illegal gaming increased.

Haijer added: “We think it will just add to the black market that already is an issue in Italy, and this will increase the size of the black market. The unregulated websites don’t need to pay those costs and so will be much more attractive to the Italian consumers who will go there and can win more money, and on the unregulated market there is no real consumer protection, so it will be really negative for consumer protection in Italy.”