Italian betting lambasts parliamentary debate on wagering tax

Italian betting leadership has issued a response to parliamentary discussions on introducing a new 0.75% tax on betting and virtual sports wagers aimed at raising funds for ‘distressed Italian sports’.

Italian Parliament continues to discuss the terms forming its ‘Revival Decree’ – a critical mandate which seeks to support the recovery of business and society from the long-term effects of COVID-19.

To the dismay of betting incumbents, last week MPs deliberated on the potential introduction of a 0.75% tax across all betting-related wagers – online, retail and virtual sports content.

Supporting the measure, ministers stated that a direct wagering tax was needed to help the government’s continued funding of Italian sports and its associated development programmes.

Issuing a swift response, all Italian gambling trade bodies lambasted MPs actions, stating that COVID-19 discussions had been hijacked to further punish the industry.

Retail trade bodies Acadi (gaming machines) and Sistema Gioco (betting shops) issued a joint statement, demanding that Parliament instantly drop any discussions on “hypothetical taxes at a time when Italian gambling is living in anguish”.

Acadi and Sistema Gioco stated that its members were “in bewilderment that the government would pursue a 0.75% sports wagering tax, that would increase the overall tax burden on Italian betting’s commercial chain to over 30%”.

The trade bodies stated that Italian betting had been ‘discriminated against’, reminding MPs that the government had made no guarantees on reopening or state funding to overcome the crisis – “this is a dramatic situation compared to what is foreseen for other sectors”.

Meanwhile, Italian online gambling trade association LOGiCO stated that a wagering tax would simply be “a gift to the underworld”.

Writing to Parliament, LOGiCO President Moreno Marasco argued that licensed online incumbents would not “digest an umpteenth tax that harasses legal firms to operate in a market that has doubled its tax demand to +40%”.

Moreno Marasco – LOGiCO

He warned: “The threat of a wagering tax represents the extinction of the legal circuit with the consequence of lost guarantees and protections, leading to the “flight” of international operators. A real gift to the underworld that will continue to thrive in this sector. ”

Marasco reminded MPs that Italian sports and Serie A had previously demanded that the government repeal its Dignity Decree restrictions on sports betting advertising/sponsorship to help sports navigate the crisis.

“The betting sector has always supported sport and society with annual financing which is already foreseen by the gaming sector with a contribution to the national State Budget of over €400 million, destined for sport and health organisations,” Marasco added.

“A support which must continue, without penalizing the legal gaming offer and users’ choices, especially since in 2018 the tax has already increased.”

Addressing football concerns, LOGiCO’s leader stated that UEFA had already implemented ‘emergency intervention, which will allocate funds to distressed clubs across national leagues.

In addition, he said that if Italian football needed further support the government should mirror French actions, which saw the government guarantee a €225 million loan to be distributed across all professional clubs.

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