Italian horseracing fans are ready for an exciting summer with restrictions on broadcasting racing content from abroad set to be fully removed, just in time for the country’s operators to counter the loss of revenues from the impending ban on gambling advertising.
We caught up with Fabio Massimo Molinari, Commercial Director at Vermantia – Italy, to find out more.
SBC: When does the relaxation of the rules officially come into place? And what does it mean exactly?
Fabio Massimo Molinari: Officially, the relaxation of the Italian horseracing programme – the Palinsesto Complementare – comes into force in July.
As to what it means. For many years previously, the country’s regulator – Italy’s Customs and Monopolies Agency (Agenzia delle Dogane e dei Monopoli) – enforced protectionist policies to safeguard revenues around its own horseracing.
This meant strict rules that ensured the focus of broadcasting was on Italian racing events and a very limited number of international ones via the national horseracing programme.
That’s all set to change now, and for the first time in history there will be no restriction on screening international content from abroad.
SBC: How will it impact upon customers, operators and suppliers?
FMM: I have no doubt it will have an excellent impact for all. For customers, this will transform the way Italian bettors engage with global horseracing.
While previously any international racing event broadcast by Italian bookmakers would have to conform to the established time slots, customers will soon be able to enjoy the best of live racing from around the world at any time of day.
For operators and suppliers, this will prove to be a great opportunity to expand their offering beyond the traditional fixtures and is likely to be a major boost of acquisition and retention.
SBC: What do you make of the timing, especially given the impending blanket ban on advertising?
FMM: Without question, the advertising ban and the relaxation of the Palinsesto Complementare are correlated.
In my view, the Italian government believes that responsible gaming needs tools to communicate the risk of gambling excessively – such as with this ad ban, but also wants to seek out ways to improve the industry without relying on advertising.
Of course, the relaxation of regulations is an effective way of doing that – by helping the business model to renew itself, while giving itself even greater visibility.
It’s also a positive, because any restrictions on promotion can now be mitigated by the expansion of content acting as a marketing tool in its own right. As we have seen in other markets, live racing data and pictures from across the world’s racetracks adds excitement and offers a new betting experience.
SBC: Do you expect the change to generate greater interest in the Italian market?
FMM: I’m sure it will. Italy has always been a country that inspires the international betting industry to innovate. Whether that be number or shops, figures or volume of business, but also in terms of technology. The value of Ippica (horseracing) is clear already – and the love of action-packed, live betting events already well known to both domestic and international operators.
It makes sense that Agenzia delle Dogane e dei Monopoli wants to make the industry more attractive internationally, as well as increasing the allure of the market, however – one must respect the previous regulations that were in place.
Italy is very proud of its local racing, and any international partner looking to enter the market needs to ensure they strike a balance between domestic and international horseracing.