Category: Regulation

10 Jan 2020

Eag Expo: amusement market between regulation and development

In the three days of London dedicated to the entertainment sector, two days of conferences and insights with a special focus on Italy: between restrictions and new developments.

Italy is the center of worldwide attention (also) as regards the so-called “Amusement” market: that is, that of “pure entertainment”, made up of video games, pinball machines and foosball that everyone knows, but that too many continue to ignore: as politicians systematically do, in the face of a sector essentially abandoned by the legislator, that despite the various problems and regulation attempts some time ago (those who have a good memory will remember the reform proposed by the then undersecretary for games Alberto Giorgetti, written and never implemented), is still remained in limbo, waiting for who knows what. Except, however, that not all politics has continued to ignore the sector: unfortunately for the professionals, a few years ago, some regional administrators adressed the matter and, instead of proposing a reorganization or regulation of the market, thought of introducing, on the contrary, some restrictions: pointing at some of these games for children as “dangerous”, because preparatory to cause gaming addictions. Following the theory, that according to many it must be considered bizarre, proposed at the time by a tv show and followed by some critics who pointed the finger, in particular, against ticket redemptions. Well, the affair didn’t end at the moment, as one of the many boutades that often locally are born and die, with various regions that, on the contrary, carried on the battle against the sector, going to forbid to minors games only designed for minors. Although these games are present in practically all the markets in the world.

THE “ITALIAN CASE” OF TICKET REDEMPTIONS – Professionals know well this story and they fight it for some time now, trying to establish a contact with politics, asking to protect their activities and trying to understand that the offer of pure entertainment should be encouraged and not opposed, just as an antidote to gambling, if we really want to worry about addictions. But the message still seems to be unheard.
However, these movements had already been brought to the attention of other European subjects last year, explaining that the “Italian case” of ticket redemptions should not be considered as a purely national thing, as a possible ban on ticket redemptions on our country could affect the entire international industry and, even worse, inspire other European countries and beyond. For this reason, the subject had been presented at the last edition of the Eag Expo in London, last January, in a debate organized by GiocoNews.it, which was attended by representatives of the Italian industry together with Jason frost, president of the European federation of operators. A meeting that, in addition to arousing considerable international attention, had also led to the subsequent partnership between Euromat and Sapar and Consorzio Fee, for an agreement and a common action aimed at protecting the sector, signed at the next fair Enada of Rimini.

THE CONFERENCE IN LONDON – But unfortunately the “Italy case” has not yet been solved and, indeed, the situation continues to be compromised. For this reason, also in the 2020 edition of the Eag fair in London, scheduled in January, 14-16, we will talk about the Italian market and its problems again, in a new edition of the conference entitled: “Ticket redemptions: the future is at stake”, scheduled for Wednesday, January, the 15th at 12 pm. Once again, the Euromat’s President Jason Frost, together with the Sapar Service’s President, Paolo Dalla Pria, the New Asgi Italia’s president, Vanni Ferro and the gaming expert lawyer, Cino Benelli, will attend the event. And a veteran of entertainment like David Snook, InterGame’s columnist, will moderate it.

A LOOK AT THE FUTURE AND ESPORTS – But luckily we don’t have only problems. For this reason, in addition to looking at problems from a regulatory point of view, the London fair will also be an opportunity (and above all) to look to the future and new trends that promise to change and revolution the offer of the arcades at an international level. Also looking at the opportunities provided by the emerging eSports phenomenon. The other conference is dedicated to that, organized by GiocoNews.it and scheduled for Tuesday, the 14th, January at 3 pm, entitled: “Competitive video games in a competitive market”. What are the possible links between eSports and Amusement and what are the business opportunities? We wonders in the debate. And again: how are videogame competitions linked to the world of arcades and FECs? How can the scenario change with the diffusion of AR/AI in retail gaming? Gioco News talks about it with the main international experts. Some of the leading experts in the field talk about it, such as: Robert-M. Fankhänel, Chief Operating Officer and Co-Founder of Hologate; Jan Goetgeluk, founder and CEO of Virtuix and Giovanni Antonioli Fantini, CEO of Sandbox Games, developer together with Tecnoplay of the now famous Race Craft driving simulator, that is emerging in arcades all over the world, thanks to the competitive mode. Ian Donegan, chief reporter at InterGame & InterFun, will moderate the debate. In short, we will have a great time in London, trying to interpret the future of the sector, in our country and beyond.

23 Dec 2019

Gaming revolution in Italy: all the new rules in force since January 2020

What changes for public gaming following the provisions contained in the tax decree and in the 2020 financial budget.

With the tax decree now converted into law and the Budget bill that will come into force from 2020, January, the 1st, we can take stock of what will change for Italian gaming in 2020, in the light of the provisions of the two final measures, by now.


THE TAX DECREE – The text provides for the extension of the tenders for betting and bingo concessions, the postponement of the start of remote slots, the establishment of the single Register of gaming operators (to which the holders of the venues to refill remote gaming accounts must register, but not the operators offering gaming without cash winning) and the “undercover” agent, the block of payments to subjects without concession and the fight against evasion in the betting sector. Actually, there is also an article on the increase in the Preu for slots and Vlts, but the financial budget repeals it, having set new withdrawal limits, together with the reduction in the payout. In addition, the arrival of the receipt lottery has been postponed to 2020, July, the 1th.

THE BUDGET LAW – Gaming provisions provide for the further taxation of the winnings at the Vlts (from €200 up, we will pay a rate of 20 percent, starting from 15 January 2020), but also those on lotteries, Win for Life, Win for Life Gold and SiVinceTutto (20 percent of those from €500 up, starting from 1 March 2020), as well as the tender for devices concessions. Preu of slots is increased (23.85 percent until the end of 2020, 24 from 2021 onwards) and Vlts (8.5 percent until the end of 2020, 8.6 percent since 2021), to modify (and repeal) the provisions contained in the Tax Decree, but the minimum payout for slots (65 percent) and Vlts (83 percent) is reduced.

THE WORK OF THE BUDGET COMMITTEE – Even if the text of the financial budget is unchangeable, it continues, as the parliamentary procedure foresees, its study by the Chamber’s Budget Committee, which must also study the amendments (all intended to be rejected).
Paolo Trancassini (FdI) expresses his astonishment to the colleagues of the Movimento 5 stelle for the changed attitude on some delicate subjects they have always claimed as ‘historical battles’ “, such as “for example, the subject of pathological gambling addiction” And he mentions how “through provisions added in previous measures, they believed they could definitively defeat this serious problem”, while “the draft budget for 2020, instead, plans to collect more revenue from gaming winnings to use them for the needs of the ministry of cultural heritage rather than using them for the recovery of subjects affected by gambling addiction”.

Mauro D’Attis, Forza Italia, criticizes “the way in which the taxation on games has been set, affecting legal gaming without the greater revenue deriving from the taxation of gaming winnings being used to remedy the damages caused by gaming addiction”. On the contrary, Luigi Marattin (Italia Viva), asks “how can we say that the measure in question leads to an increase in taxes” and invites the government representative to “clearly indicate what the expected revenue is for the tax measures introduced, such as the Robin tax, the sugar tax, the plastic tax and the increase in taxes on games and tobaccos”.

The amendment by Mauro D’Attis (Forza Italia) is with no hope of approval, but with political “weight”, which brings into play gaming: “For the strengthening of the control purposes on games and to ensure the certainty of the withdrawal, in order to achieve the progressive objective of reducing the use of cash, from 1 January 2020 the marketing of public gaming on the physical network may also take place through a prepaid card, issued by the concessionaires registered in the single register of public gaming operators, pursuant to article 27 of decree-law 26 October 2019, n.124, exclusively usable for the purchase of gaming services marketed by the issuing entity in the points of sale authorized by the Agenzia delle dogane e dei monopoli and part of the physical network of the same. The prepaid card can be purchased by the player at the concessionaires’ points of sale for an amount not exceeding two hundred and fifty euros and can be equipped with the functions of memorizing the bets recorded by the national totalizer, having the legal effects of the participation receipt and refill for amounts corresponding to the winnings achieved, without prejudice to the applicability of the current anti-money laundering rules at the time of withdrawal of any sum from the card itself. Concessionaires notify to the Agenzia delle dogane e dei monopoli the start of the marketing of public gaming via prepaid card by transmitting the specifications of the installed system”.

30 Nov 2019

Castaldo (Microgame): “New market phase, strategic physical network”

Marco Castaldo, Ceo of Microgame, at the GiocoNews.it panel at Sigma in Malta, points out that land-based sales points are less compromised by the ban on gaming advertising.

Ta’Qali, Malta – “The ban on gaming advertising, which is the result of a bad policy and a wrong approach to the sector, is however to be considered as an unavoidable consequence of the irreverence of the operators who made too frequent and excessively aggressive communication campaigns that ended up to offend somebody”.
This is the opinion of Marco Castaldo, Ceo of Microgame, who spoke at the GiocoNews.it panel at the Sigma fair in Malta dedicated to the ban on advertising.
“However, the upside is that online gaming market has nevertheless maintained its growth trend, confirming the Italian sector as a land of great opportunities”, Castaldo continues.
The ban on advertising has therefore not compromised the business, even though it has certainly changed. “What we face today is a new market with new rules in terms of marketing and communication and within which the physical network plays a highly strategic role, with the land-based sales points that are less compromised by the ban and become fundamentals in terms of affiliations”.

Here the full video of the GiocoNews’ conference

30 Nov 2019

Rossi (Betsson): “Ban on advertising penalizes smaller operators”

At the GiocoNews.it conference at Sigma in Malta, Andrea Rossi (Betsson Group) points out that the ban on gaming advertising is penalizing above all the smaller operators.

Ta ’Qali, Malta – “Despite the problem represented by the ban on advertising ordered by the Dignity decree, the Italian online market has not yet shown contraction effects and therefore the negative impact that many expected there wasn’t. Even if, in all probability, this scenario will still occur later, when this new regime will be consolidated”.
Andrea Rossi, manager of Betsson Group, says that during the GiocoNews.it conference hosted by Sigma Malta and dedicated to the ban on gaming advertising.
“But what can be seen, looking at the data, is that the contribution of the smaller operators has been significantly reduced in the total contribution of gaming collection and this data – although it will have to be analyzed in more detail, because it is also linked to other factors – could however depend on the ban on advertising, which undoubtedly penalizes the smaller operators and the less consolidated brands that have yet to be affirmed”.
Speaking of the ongoing strategy change, Rossi emphasizes the tendency of the big brands to promote “alternative gambling services”, as an unavoidable consequence of the ban, “focusing on contiguous gaming channels, such as the publishing industry, or the game for fun offer. Something that could be consolidated as a new form of marketing if will pass the controll of the authorities”.

Here the full video of the GiocoNews’ conference

30 Nov 2019

La Rosa: ‘Ban on advertising, weak points on the EU and Italian front’

The lawyer Rodolfo La Rosa highlights the weak points of the legislation that in Italy forbid the advertising of gaming with cash prizes.

Qa ‘Tali, Malta – The ban on advertising introduced with the Dignity decree has changed the scenario of the Italian online gaming. This is highlighted by the lawyer Rodolfo Gherardo La Rosa, a consultant of BridgeLaw, in his speech at the Gioco News focus: “Regulatory repression: the changing face of the Italian iGaming landscape“, scheduled for the Affiliates & Cmo conference.

After describing the provisions of the law decree of 12 July 2018, converted into law on 6 August, and the guidelines issued by Agcom on last 18 April, La Rosa highlights the weak points of the current legislation. First of all, as regards the European law. In fact, La Rosa underlines the “failure to notify in advance to the European Commission the draft law decree and the consequent violation of section 5 of the European directive 2015/1535, which provides that the Member States immediately communicate to the Commission any draft technical regulation”, as well as the “violation of the right of establishment and provision of services as established by sections 49 and 56 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union”. The lawyer also observes how the ruling of the EU Court of Justice has been violated “according to which restrictions on internal market freedoms must be suitable, necessary and proportionate”.

But there is also an “internal” front, concerning compliance with license agreements with the Italian gaming authority. According to La Rosa, there is a “possible conflict between the total prohibition of advertising and the obligation for the authorized operator to carry out the marketing activity [of licensed games] exclusively through the chosen channels, engage in information activities for consumers, as regards gaming regulations and the protection of legal gaming and the promotion of safe, legal and responsible gaming”.

Here the full video of the conference.

11 Oct 2019

The future of gaming between technology and regulatory restrictions

Gaming sector continues to evolve, day after day, hand in hand with the development of technology. Despite the restrictions imposed by national and territorial regulations, imposing limits on businesses.

The debate at the Enada show in Rome promoted by GiocoNews.it talks about it, aimed at the evolution of the gaming offer, between online and retail. That is, looking at multichannel as a development strategy (and, in some cases, as a safety) for companies of the sector.
“We have been talking about multichannel for a long time, in our sector, and even if the goal of the so-called “omnichannel” may in some ways still appear distant for many operators, it doesn’t mean that nothing has been done. Indeed, on the contrary, many changes and new developments are taking place, that are creating new opportunities”, Marco Castaldo, CEO of Microgame, one of the speakers at the debate, explains. One of the issues addressed in the debate is also the impact of the Dignity Decree on the sector with multi-channel system, that seems to offer a solution or at least an opportunity.
“Multi-channel system allows integration between operators and the two channels, enhancing and making strategic the affiliation network on the ground”, Castaldo adds, also highlighting the “democratization” action carried out on the sector by the Dignity Decree, since before the total “ban” on advertising the market was drugged by an over-promotion of the big names of the field, that invested huge amounts of money in advertising by putting on the spot the smaller subjects”.

Furthermore, according to Ludovico Calvi, President of the Global lottery monitoring system, “Italy, even if we don’t fully realize it, represents an incredible workshop which continues to be a reference point in the world. This is why even in the face of the restrictions imposed by the Dignity Decree, the Italian operator will be able to transform the limit into opportunity. For example, we are already seeing that a “pure” online operator today is forced to look for a land-based partner to be able to stay on the market and this opens up a new scenario different from all the other European and world markets”.
In any case, the transition won’t be so simple: or, at least, not immediately. Domenico Mazzola, Altenar’s commercial director, is sure of this: “I am not sure that the evolution is necessarily oriented towards omnichannel – he explains – I believe instead that the experience of retail will be skilled through that of online. This is because, at least reasoning in the short term, there are still rooted differences between the two segments. It is obvious to everyone that the land-based store, to date, is attended a lot by non-young people who love to go to that particular location also to socialize and chat with friends and acquaintances. While the online segment is generally characterized by younger users who are accustomed to the use of some technologies and in any case more oriented to personal play, perhaps even live following the game at home. Then, there are also characterizations based on territoriality, with some geographical areas or particular cities where the closer store represents something difficult to replace, due to a cultural setting and a particular tradition”. For this reason, according to Mazzola, “those who will specialize in creating ad hoc solutions for the various experiences in use will have greater chances of success. At least until certain differences continue to exist”. But that is not all. There is also the national context that influences developments, “inevitably slowing them down – according to the Altenar’s manager – given that – especially in Italy – political and regulatory conditions suddenly change and even to talk about developments looking ahead over the years becomes difficult. I therefore consider more useful to focus on specialization, dedicating resources to the development of specific solutions suited to your business. That the user experience is the same is not, after all, so true. At least not for everyone”.

Italtronic’s senior consultant, Mario Brescianini, explains the advantages of the online gaming offer and the problems of gaming model during the Enada fair in Rome. “The launch of an online gambling offer is a scalable project that requires a very limited investment and represents an important incremental revenue line, even if it should (partially or totally) cannibalize current slots collections installed in the same places.
This is what Mario Brescianini, Italtronic’s senior consultant, affirmed during the conference entitled “The future of gaming between online and retail”, which took place this morning, Tuesday, October, the 9th, at Enada, the gaming fair in Rome. “Multi-channel system – Brescianini explains again – represents today the greatest opportunity for gaming companies, both in terms of development and business growth and in terms of marketing, especially for small and medium-sized companies that can catch in the online further driving elements for their land-based activities”.
“For the operators – Brescianini continues – it is therefore a new challenge that however has interesting perspectives and that must be fully understood, because we need to optimize and develop solutions that allow an ideal integration between the two channels, favoring mutual well-being”.

Online gaming offer – Brescianini explains – is a useful supplementary product for completing the gaming offer. It can be a useful tool to oppose the lower collection due to the entry into force of timetables or even the replacement product, where the slots have been switched off due to distances and/or local regulations and allows the operator to increase the revenue from the games, but also from the supply of drinks and food thanks to the flows of customers who use the devices for paying bills, mobile phone top-ups”.
According to Brescianini, the advantages of an online offer can be summarized in some points: no concession needed (in fact, it is possible to operate as a commercial network for a third-party concessionaire); zero or minimum initial investment (skin hypothesis of third-party concessionaire); product complementary to the current slots offer to the operators; no additional cost for the proposal of the new product and for the collection; use of in renting terminals to automate players registration activities and loading/unloading account; margin for the operator higher than the standard Awps margin (thanks to taxation on the margin). During the Enada conference, Brescianini reiterated that the “so-called top-up or Pvr stores (bars, tobacco shops, arcades, etc., where slots are installed) are businesses where, after contractualization with a concessionaire authorized to collect remote gaming, new players interested in opening an online gaming account can be registered.

According to the Italtronic partner, Brescianini “the current model mainly has two critical points from the strictly operational point of view: on the one hand, there is a constant exposure of the concessionaire towards the Pvr network, and on the other the fact that the number of players registered and gaming volumes heavily depends on the operator’s actions and initiative (which is often not cooperative at all. There are also the problems from the point of view of compliance with the regulations of Adm and tracking of financial flows, since the operator must identify the players and collect the cash proceeds of the charge cards of the gaming account.

Today all the concessionaires work in the ways described above, but Adm seems oriented towards a more strict observance of anti-money laundering regulations and could explicitly prohibit some practices.
A device is now available on the market that on the one hand automates some operations, avoiding the direct involvement of the operator and, on the other hand, by using a platform enabled for online payments, it allows to always identify the author of the transactions that are always tracked and of an exclusively banking nature.
The device – Brescianini ends – also allows to avoid the allocation of a ceiling to the operator as the players, in order to recharge their gaming account, must necessarily deposit cash or make a transfer from their e-wallet”.

 

05 Oct 2019

The future of gaming between online and retail: the debate at Enada Rome

How the gaming offer changes in the light of the new rules and technologies: in a market increasingly oriented towards multi-channel and conditioned by regulatory restrictions.
Gioco News talks with the main experts in the sector, highlighting current trends and exploring new opportunities. Wednesday 9th October, at Enada Show, in Rome.

Speakers:

– Domenico Mazzola, Sales managerAltenar
– Ludovico Calvi, consultant, President of Global Lottery Monitoring System
– Marco Castaldo, CEO of Microgame
– Mario Brescianini, Senior Consultant Italtronic Srl
Moderator: Cesare Antonini, GiocoNews.it / Gn Media publishing group.

01 Oct 2019

The work on the financial budget begins: new taxes on games and advance of the tenders

Government must recover more than 31 billion euro and also asks for proceeds from the games, assuming the advance of the tenders for the renewal of slots and vlts concessions.

After the first rumors concerning the possible increases in the single tax collection applied to amusement machines, which, although representing a mere preventive hypothesis (as described on these pages), immediately triggered panic among the experts in the sector, today we get to the heart of the work related to the financial budget for 2020, in a week that could already be crucial. The first technical meetings are already underway at the Ministry of the Economy (in direct line with Brussels), which will continue until the Council of Ministers which will take place tomorrow (Tuesday, October, the 1st) in the late afternoon, where the Nota di aggiornamento al Documento di economia e finanza (Def) will be analized. Despite various attempts to identify new forms of revenue for the state, the variables seem to be very few. Even if the political objectives are clear: to sterilize the Vat increase, also taking advantage of the flexibility granted by Europe, but without exaggerating, avoiding in advance any minimum possibility of risk of conflict with the European Union, which would certainly be harmful. To do so, however, the Italian government will have to provide adequate assurances.
First of all, those of a growth: or, at least, the achievement of a debt/Gdp ratio starting to fall already in 2020, after a 2019 that will close with an increase, and for the second consecutive year. The second guarantee is that of a nominal deficit that can’t exceed 2.2 percent to implement that “flexibility in the rules” also relaunched by the commissioner for economic affairs, as well as former premier, Paolo Gentiloni. After the Minister of the Economy, Roberto Gualtieri, had already anticipated that he would have to settle between 2 and 2.4 percent.

FINANCIAL BUDGET OF 31-33 BILLIONS – A rather narrow picture appears from the crossing of these two factors, that affects the possibilities of financial budget of the Nadef (the additional note of the document of economy and finance). With the complex and delicate search for resources that will be played out between fiscal decree, green decree and budget law, necessary to manage the accounts crushed by the super increases of Vat from 23.1 billion (28.8 for 2021) bequeathed by the Conte -1 gevernment. In a fiscal budget that should be of €31-33 billion and that the government wants to characterize above all through a concrete action aimed at combating tax evasion. But the games will also be implicated, as always happens, at least in the last ten years.

THE ACTIONS ABOUT GAMING – As tradition wants, therefore, also this time a space dedicated to the action of contrasting the illegal gaming will complete the package of each budget law, always with a view to intervention against tax evasion, both on the front of gaming taxes and to direct and indirect taxes. To reach the preliminary target for now set between €300 and 500 million, according to what GiocoNews.it learns from institutional sources.

With an illegal gaming market estimated today at around €20 billion, compared to €110 billion invoiced by the legal sector each year (of which around 90 are returned in winnings), and in any case higher than the approximately 11 billion directly collected by the Treasury.
For a moment, the possible further intervention on the tax collection of the devices was filed – where there no longer seem to be margins of fiscal action, taking into account the now precarious balance of the supply chain – the government would have to study a mix of measures, ranging from tenders for new slot concessions expiring in March 2022, to the onerous extension of tenders for bingo and betting concessions. For the devices, it is assumed an advance of tender procedures (as already happened for other games and as already anticipated, in recent months, on these pages) given that, despite the 2020 deadline, the start of the procedure and the writing of the rules for the new tender should in any case be carried out in the next fiscal budget for 2020. Once the rules have been specified in the fiscal budget, the administration will be able to announce the new tender at the end of 2021, assign the new concessions and collect at least part of the expected amounts. With the winning concessionaires who will then be asked to pay the bill with the actual launch of the new concessions starting from 2022.

However, in addition to the renewal of concessions the framework for action of the new government on games should be completed with a new action aimed at combating evasion, which would consist in the introduction of the obligation for all gaming operators to be registered in the single register, without exceptions.
A new duty in order to be able to operate on the gaming market, which is already required today for those who work in the slots and Vlts supply chain – through the so-called Registro Ries, managed by the Agenzia delle Dogane e dei Monopoli – which could be extended to the entire sector. So, even those working in betting, tobacco shops and digital platforms offering online gaming. New measures also for the action of contrasting the so-called “totems”, that is the terminals for online gaming, not allowed in Italian public businesses.

WAIT FOR THE GAMES MANDATE – In the meantime, in Via XX Settembre the mandate for public gaming sector has not yet been discussed. The attention, at this moment, is all focused on the financial budget and there seems to be no room for other discussions. Or, at least, so until last week, with the scenario that could change already in the coming days, also in the light of the changes that could arise in the sector from the measures under consideration for the next fiscal budget, which will require a political director to be implemented. But precisely for this reason the appointments could be postponed for a few weeks. According to the rumors that leaked from the Mef, the political problem concerning the choice of the field wouldn’t have been solved (nor addressed): that is, if the mandate should be assigned to an undersecretary of the Pd or the Movimento 5 stelle. Without prejudice to the “third” option represented by the other undersecretary Guerra, representing Libero e uguali at the government.

 

30 Sep 2019

Villarosa (Mef): ‘Gaming, reduction of volumes and Vlts is a priority’

Reduction of gaming volumes, implementation of the advertising ban and a national law: undersecretary Alessio Villarosa promises it to the program PresaDiretta, on the air on September, the 30th.

“We want to reduce the Vlts even more. It is a commitment that I take in front of you. This Government wants to reduce gaming volume as much as possible, because it has exponentially increased. It will start with a reduction but also aims to eliminate them”. Target “reducing all those devices that are really aggressive and that are the cause of gambling addiction. And also of the related places”.
These are the words with which Alessio Villarosa, undersecretary of the Economy, traces the future of the public gaming sector in the interview to “PresaDiretta” Tv programm, for the inquiry “Vizio di Stato” (State vice), which will be on the air today, Monday, September, the 30th.

According to reports from the Askanews news agency, Villarosa also concentrates on the ban on gaming advertising, introduced last year with the Dignity decree. “We need to check whether it is a contract already in place or not. And if there are any existing concessions they must be completed until the end but within the year (actually, by August 2019, as required by the decree, for contracts in place at the time the provision came into force). So, in 2020 we won’t have any advertising. It is also a promise of the new Government”.
Then, the undersecretary of the Economy points out that legal gaming collects about €107 billion a year, of which 10 go to the Government. “Eliminating a collection of 10 billion in a year is obviously unthinkable, but I think it is possible doing it gradually”.
As for the need for a national law on gaming, for Villarosa “it is necessary to intervene, but not even to dismantle all the good that has been done in recent years (by the Regions and the Municipalities). So, it must be done but very carefully”.

22 Aug 2019

Reorganization, advertising, Awps and tenders: the measures hanging on the government crisis

The government crisis blocks all the work needed for Italy and for public gaming: in addition to flat tax, Vat increase and €80, waiting for reorganization, Awps and tenders.

It is impossible to plan economic choices, for Italian families and businesses, today: everything becomes harder than usual due to the government crisis, which doesn’t seem meant to be immediately resolved. It is for individuals, to whom the “flat tax” is promised for more than a year, risking, on the contrary, to obtain “in exchange” an increase in Vat from 2020, in addition to losing the €80 bonus. But companies are also in trouble, forced to define their budgets for 2020 without exactly knowing which and how many taxes they will have to pay since next year, with various concessions on the line, such as super-amortization. However, the situation is even worse for gaming companies, for which in addition to all the problems and difficulties common to every type of economic activity, there are also a series of specific problems that will remain unsolved. Despite being urgent and crucial for the sector.

THE AWAITED REFORM – Starting from the reorganization of the sector: announced for the first time by the current government through the Dignity decree, in July 2018 (despite it has already been promised and announced by the previous governments and even “touched” with the agreement reached in the unified conference in 2017, and never implemented), and promised within the next six months, only to be postponed who knows how long, until the announcement of a few days ago of the undersecretary with responsibility for games, who just in the period of closure of the chambers (and on the eve of the crisis) announced that he was working on a Single Code of the Games, which at this point it is not possible to known what happens to it, waiting for a new majority at Palazzo Chigi.

THE ADVERTISING ISSUE – The reorganization of the sector is not the only measure ordered by the government on the gaming sector through the Dignity decree. On the contrary, the most sensational (and discussed) political initiative carried out by the government through the July 2018 decree was the introduction of a total ban on advertising with which any form of advertising, promotion and communication of gaming, even indirect, has been forbidden. In addition, any form of sponsorship of sports events and other types of events is prohibited. A decision that is jeopardizing publishing companies, large and small media and creating important deficit into the coffers of sports clubs, which ask the government to intervene for more than a year now, but in vain. After the Guidelines published by the Autorità garante delle comunicazioni last April, in an attempt to make the partially unachievable rules applicable, a new debate was unleashed with accusations by the 5 stelle political leader Luigi Di Maio, who spoke of “softened watered” by AgCom, promising a new restrictive intervention, by decree. Announcing a “Dignity decree bis”, of which there is no trace. Beyond the rumors coming from Via Venti Settembre relating to the drafting of an “explanatory newsletter” referring to the ban on advertising, of which we are waiting to know the process. Government (and Parliament) permitting.

THE SLOTS ISSUE – Among the unsolved issues waiting for an intervention abou gaming, there is also the entire front of gaming machines and, in particular, the so-called “AwpRs”: that is, the new generation of remote devices, whose debut is expected on the market, in theory, starting from next year. Reading the law, the new slots “with remote activation” must be produced and marketed starting from January 2020, since from that same date authorizations relating to the current generation of slot machines will no longer be released. But it is a shame that to date not even the smallest details relating to this kind of entertainment machines are known, with the decree of technical rules expected for months (indeed, for years by now), whose publication must also be anticipated even going to Brussels, at the Business Department of the European Commission, for a period of at least three months, as required by the EU Directive on technical assets circulating within the Union. Taking into account that, according to games manufacturers, it takes at least six months for the start of production of a new generation of slots (and at least a year, according to network concessionaires), the risk is that of a total block of the sales for producers starting next January, if an extension of the current authorisation for the current slots won’t be introduced. Or at least if the process of introduction of the Awprs won’t be accelerated.

THE REFORM OF FOOTBALL POOL – Among the surprise moves made by the yellow-green executive with regard to public gaming is the one related to the football pool, with the announcement of a restyling of the oldest of the winning games that suddenly arrived in the first months of th government, immediately after the same majority had declared war to gambling. Instead, the government’s decision was to increase resources for sport, also focusing on the choice, defined as “revolutionary” to relaunch contests to prediction “that don’t involve risks related to gambling, such as the football pool”, modifying the percentage for the prize pool by providing that a portion of the proceeds is assigned to the Sport e Salute Spa (formerly Coni Servizi) company. The process has already been started and implementation measures are expected.

RECEIPTS LOTTERY – It was the other big news announced by the government, in the most general astonishment. After previous attempts by various governments, the one led by Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte and openly hostile to gambling, announced without much trouble the launch of a new and further Lottery: that of receipts, which is preparing to make its debut in January 2020. In theory. According to what leaked by the Mef, the new lottery has already been settled and has already multiplied the chances of winning already before being born. Compared to the aseptic project leaked from the previous law that rather blandly introduced the new form of gaming as a mere instrument to combat tax evasion, from the latest rumors it seems to take shape a real “gambling”, also rich in appeal. To the point that a progressive development of the game has been foreseen which will see the transition to weekly draws, starting from 2021, after a first year of bets characterized by monthly and annual draws. But that’s not all. Yes, because every month three prizes will be drawn, of the value of €50,000 for the first drawn, 30,000 for the second one and 10,000 for the third one. While the annual draw will see a first prize with a value of even one million euros. The two agencies involved are working on the drafting of the regulation: Entrate e dogane -Monopoli, in view of the lottery debut set for next year. Except other changes.

BETTING DECREE – Among the most sensational initiatives of the current government about gambling, there is also the failure to publish the new regulation on bets that should have ratify the introduction of two innovative parties in betting, such as the so-called “cash out” and the mistake in the shares. After months of tests made by the Agenzia delle dogane e dei monopoli together with Sogei and the concessionaires, the trial period that should have been followed by the actual implementation of the rules expired, while the failure to publish in the Official Journal the ministerial decree signed by Giovanni Tria interrupted the process, following the instructions of the Ministry of Economy. And now we are waiting for developments, after the huge investments made by the companies on the suggestion of the legislator to implement the new methods, in order to make the legal offer competitive with respect to the illegal one.

TERRITORIAL ISSUE AND CONCESSIONS – Among the various open fronts relating to public gaming, the most important one, however, remains that of the so-called Territorial issue: that is, the clashbetween the central State and the local, regional or municipal rules, which have restrictive action on the installations of gaming products despite the rule of law still in force in the sector. Without a solution to the conflict, by virtue of which a huge controversy is still pending in the main administrative courts of Italy, it is impossible to proceed with the issuing of calls for tenders for the renewal of concessions for physical points of sale of bets and bingo, currently extended in return of payment. An unsustainable situation and not only for the insiders, as it could lead to problems with Europe and cause, at a theoretical level, even an infringement procedure against our country.

Well, all these situations, of a more or less urgent nature but extremely necessary in all cases, therefore remain at the mercy of events and waiting for developments from Parliament, that must decide about the fall of the current Executive. Although the current majority turned out to be decidedly hostile towards the gaming sector, it is clear that a change of government and new possible elections would involve an unavoudable delay for any issue, certainly not considered a priority with respect to other needs of the country. It is therefore difficult to indicate which situation is better for the gaming industry than those that can be identified in this crisis situation.