Italian Online Gambling Legislation and European Court of Justice Ruling

Online Gaming in ItalyIn January the Italian authorities presented a ministerial decree to the European Commission stating that betting exchanges would be regulated in Italy. (See article: Italian Online Gaming Market Opens up Even More). This would lead to the Italian online gaming market becoming more open to competition from online gaming operators from outside Italy who can apply for an Italian gambling licence. Online gambling has been legal in Italy since 2006. In 2011 around 200 gaming licences were issued by the Italian authorities (Amministrazone Autonoma dei Monopoli di Stato).
Many of these licences were granted to operators from outside Italy such as William Hill, 888Casino and Ladbrokes.However the Italian online gaming laws have been brought into question recently by the European Court of Justice. It appears that the Italian gaming regulations may contravene European Union laws which forbid the restriction of the granting of gaming licences to foreign operators in European Union member states. It seems that the fact that online gaming operators from outside Italy were prevented from accessing the Italian market over the past few years has given the existing Italian operators an unfair advantage. This goes against European Union laws so the Italian laws could be looked on as protectionist.The European Court of Justice ruling in the cases concerning the ability of European operators to acquire Italian gambling licences concerns the Italian reformed 2006 gambling laws. It ruled that member states cannot protect certain national interests by excluding foreign operators while claiming to protect consumers and prevent fraud in their own country. The preliminary ruling also stated that increasing tax revenue and protecting existing operators in the Italian market appear to be the objectives of the 2006 legislation. It also claimed that due to the way the gaming market is regulated the objectives of protecting vulnerable people from gambling addiction and limiting gambling activity within Italy do not seem to be being met under the existing legislation.

There have been other European Court of Justice rulings concerning the difference between the proclaimed objectives of member states and the actual laws in place which could be viewed as being protectionist. The main point is that access to the online gaming markets must be fair for all, for both existing and new operators.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *