The European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA) has voiced concerns over the newly proposed decree in Italy to raise online gambling license fees. If the Council of Ministers passes the decree, it would make the country’s licensing fees the most costly in the EU and inevitably cause a spike in black market gambling.
According to the press release of the Brussels-based trade association, recent news reports indicated an unparalleled €7 million online license fee in Italy, far exceeding the cost of entering the regulated gambling sector across other EU countries. Considering the present license fee of €200,000 and the previously rejected raise to €2.5 million, the current proposal is unjustified, according to the association.
Maarten Haijer, Secretary-General of EGBA, has made a statement regarding the decree. According to him, along with the other existing limitations in the country’s gambling market, such as the local prohibitions on advertising, “the proposed fee hike will make Italy a closed shop for new market entrants and lead to an exodus of existing licensees”. He also stated that the unprecedented fee would stir up concerns about compliance with EU law. Instead of improving the situation with Italy’s online gambling black market, it would make it even worse, as the Secretary-General commented.
EGBA Highlights the Grave Consequences of a Potential Rise in Italian Online Gambling License Fees
EGBA’s press release also emphasized several major consequences that would arise from a potential license fee increase. It would drive legitimate operators away from the Italian gambling market and decrease their number from the current 91 to approximately 15-20. That would lead to the proliferation of the illegal market and pose risks to consumers. Overall, the fairness and competitiveness of the market would be impaired.
Estimated at over €1 billion annually, Italy has one of Europe’s largest black markets. If implemented, the proposed changes would generate between €105 to €140 million worth of revenue for the state, in the best-case scenario, according to EGBA.
The association has expressed its willingness to cooperate with the Italian government to implement a license fee framework that would support a properly regulated and stable online gambling market environment, bringing to the fore player protection mechanisms and ensuring equal opportunities for all participants. EGBA also suggested revoking the current advertising ban, allowing legitimate operators to market their products, while simultaneously protecting minors and vulnerable groups.
France is yet another EU Member State that has recently come under EGBA’s scrutiny regarding its online gambling black market. The association has prompted the French authorities to regulate its remote gaming industry following the findings of a recent study commissioned by the country’s gambling regulatory body. According to estimations, France’s online gambling black market is worth up to €1.5 billion annually in GGR.