Fabio Schiavolin: SNAITECH – Industry leadership must fight for its public rationale

Speaking to SBC, Fabio Schiavolin, Chief Executive of SNAITECH, has detailed that betting leadership across all markets must prioritise self-regulation, whilst retaining a deeper sense of public and political perception if the sector is to avoid another year mirroring 2018 events.

Politics has been an unavoidable dynamic for Italian betting stakeholders since the Lega-5Star coalition formed its government on June 2018, quickly installing its Dignity Decree social mandate, banning all forms of gambling marketing, advertising and sponsorship.

Asked if he enjoys the political side of running a gambling business, Schiavolin stated that as an Italian business leader –  ‘politics is an element that we are culturally used to’.

“In comparison to the UK and other jurisdictions, in Italy, we do consider ourselves a partner of the regulator, as we are forced to be audited by the government’s AAMS,” he said. “In turn, we have always been able to express our views on the limitations of the market.”

Leading legacy operator SNAITECH, Schiavolin has pushed for frank discussions with prior governments on improving Italian betting industry standards alongside securing transparency on social responsibility practices.

Nevertheless, has this open framework been lost with Lega-5Star hostile stance towards all gambling verticals?

“I don’t believe so, and let me underline that this is not a point-of-no-return for Italian gambling,” Schiavolin added. “Yes, we have suffered, but it’s important that we reorganise how we communicate, we still have good ideas and should not be afraid of engaging with the government.”

Schiavolin further states that it is too short-sighted to unload all Italian gambling woes on Lega-5Star, as prior to 2018 Italian stakeholders had called time-and-again for rewrites, rethinks and reclassifications on betting laws.

“The common understanding of the Italian betting is poor because, the market grew so fast without adequate legislative processes, which has led to a public misinterpretation of the industry, a factor that we need to fix.”

Beyond the Italian market, Schiavolin warns that betting stakeholders have to understand public perceptions and their influence on how the sector is rationalised, amid rising populist narratives, which are not simply contained within Italy.

“I feel that the total ban on advertising and further restrictions that we have seen in Italy is unlikely to be replicated in other countries. However, I must warn that this is a particularly sensitive moment, throughout multiple jurisdictions such as Spain, France, the UK and perhaps even the US.

“Working with wider stakeholders the industry must now prove that it can maintain self-discipline or else face losing public and political rationale”

Having witnessed 2018 events, Schiavolin points towards cooperation with wider stakeholders, as the dynamic which will save the betting sector both at home and abroad.

Case in point, Schiavolin notes that the challenge of Lega-5Star blanket ban has been driven by Italian sporting organisations, Serie A football clubs, media owners and broadcasters, as stakeholders burnt by irrational policies.

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