2022 Budget Law holds no reforms for Italian gambling

Italy’s Budget Law for 2022 has been approved without any gambling sector amendments being adopted by Parliament.

The result will see no legislative progress for Italy’s gambling sector that requires definitive resolutions on betting shop, gaming machine and online gambling concessions.

Without Budget Law amendments, 2022 points to another year of conflict between operators and Italy’s Customs and Monopolies Agency (ADM) as incumbents seek to certify their licences against the ADM’s desires to halve Italian gambling’s field size.

Following months of regulatory uncertainty, last November the Rome Lazio TAR administrative court ruled in favour of Italian licensees, allowing for 30 online gambling operators to extend their existing concessions until December 2022.

Despite the positive TAR outcome, relief will be short-lived as no sector amendments were filed by the senate tasked with drafting the government’s Budget Law.

Hope of sector amendments had dawned following the appointment of Federico Freni as new Undersecretary of Italy’s Economic Treasury. Taking on his new role as a senior policy advisor, Freni had chosen to support his predecessor Claudio Durigon’s mandate of lobbying MPS to support much-needed reforms of the gambling sector.

Despite the Budget Law setback, Freni has stated that sector reassurances on licensing concessions could still be secured via a separate ‘delegation bill’  that could be adopted with the specific mandate to ‘reorganise gambling’.  Should the delegation bill secure parliamentary support, the government could approve its passage as early as January 2022.

Of vital importance, regulatory intervention is critical as 2022 beckons, as 11 gaming machines concessionaires for slots and VLTs expire at the end of March.

The deadline will be followed by an expiry date for betting shop concessions that is set to be enforced from the end of June 2022, as the government ends its Cura Italia protections for retail businesses.

Freni has warned operators that a delegation bill cannot be viewed as a definitive resolution as “without a stable and homogeneous regulation – agreed with the Parliament – any tender would be premature.”

“We need to set up the plan at the right time. I’ll seek a discussion with all the gaming categories, for sure we’ll not make any decision without an open consultation. Before the delegation bill arrives at the Parliament.”

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