Get in the game: Italian government launches 120 online gaming licences
17 January 2018
On 10 January 2018 the Italian government launched the availability of 120 new online gaming licences, which will be awarded to operators applying on a first come first serve basis, with no bidding process. The launch of these licences have been long awaited as the 2016 Stability Law was approved on 28 December 2015. These licences will have a big impact on the online gaming sector in Italy. It will open up more opportunities for operators in the country, as there are currently only 92 licensees, and create a more competitive landscape for the industry.
There are no restriction on the type of entities that can apply however, if an operator does not hold a European online gaming licence in Italy or another EU country with a turnover of over €1.5m or more then it will need to hold an additional €1.5m as a bank guarantee. The government is providing an umbrella licence that aims to cover all games that are not subject to exclusive licences, e.g. sports-betting, horse betting, casino, poker, skill games, fantasy sport, bingo, betting exchange, bets on virtual events etc. The price of each licence is €200,000 and it is expected that at least one third will be awarded to existing operators whose licences have already expired. A licence granted by the State is required in order to operate in the Italian market. Operators can only offer cash prizes if they have a valid Italian online gaming licence. It is illegal to operate unlicensed and if caught criminal and civil charges can be brought against the company or individual; any website may also be banned and added to a blacklist which is published by the National State Agency – in December 2017 there were over 6,500 banned websites on the list.
The deadline for filing applications is 19 March 2018 and applications will be opened on 19 April 2018. Once the applications are filed there is expected to be a 3-5 month period from the application being issued to licence being awarded. Given the two year wait it’s taken for these licences to be launched and the first come, first serve nature of them being issued we would encourage clients looking to enter into the Italian market to act now and complete the application well in advance of the 19 March deadline; as many interested parties, both current and new operators, will be keen to get hold of one of the 120 licences.
If you would like any further information or discuss any queries please do not hesitate to contact Alessandro Greco or David Roberts.