The European Gaming and Betting Association is speaking out against a proposed increase in online gambling license fees in Italy. The association is raising concerns about the potential impact of the increase, which is currently being discussed by Italy’s Council of Ministers.
According to reports, the proposed decree could see a new license fee of €7 million for operators, which is a significant increase from the 2018 fee of €200,000. This would represent a 35-fold increase and triple the previously planned fee of €2.5 million, which was never put into effect. The EGBA has estimated that this new fee could generate between €105-140 million for the state. However, the association argues that the previously proposed fee of €2.5 million could yield a similar or higher tax revenue.
The EGBA is warning that this increase could lead to a drastic reduction in the number of licensed operators in Italy, potentially decreasing the number from 91 to 15-20. The association is calling for a reevaluation of the proposed fee, which they describe as both unprecedented and unwarranted.
The association states that the high fee could deter new market entrants and force smaller operators out of the market, ultimately leading to an increase in the size of the country’s online gambling black market. They argue that the primary goal of Italy’s gambling regulation should be the protection of players and fostering a fair and competitive market.
The EGBA also expressed concerns about the compliance of the proposed fee with EU law and emphasized its opposition to a blanket gambling advertising ban in the country. The association is committed to working with Italian authorities to develop a sustainable license fee framework.
EGBA Secretary General Maarten Haijer warned that the proposed fee hike could result in an exodus of existing licensees and make Italy’s online gambling black market problem worse. The association urges the Council of Ministers to reconsider the proposal, pointing out that Italy’s online gambling black market is one of the largest in Europe, valued at more than €1 billion annually.