AgiproNews Italian View: Industry faces anti-betting Lega – Five Star coalition

The tables have turned yet again for all Italian betting stakeholders, as the coalition of Lega and Five Star Movement, have been sworn in as Italy’s new government.

On Friday new Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte convinced Italy’s constitutional President Sergio Mattarella, to accept a Lega-5 Star government, having restructured the populist coalition’s executive cabinet and finance ministry.

Conte will now lead as PM of western Europe’s first populist government, made up of anti-establishment Five Star and the right-wing Lega Nord members.

The formation of a Lega-5 Star government, was the least preferred outcome for Italian betting stakeholders, as both parties have publicly taken an anti-gambling stance.

Presenting their joint coalition mandate, Luigi di Maio leader of Five Star and Matteo Salvini head of Lega Nord, had agreed to push through severe restrictions on the Italian gambling sector, seeking to create a ‘stronger social contract against the ills of gambling’.

Within the joint mandate, Lega-5 Star have presented a breakdown of potential betting/gambling restrictions, which the populist government seeks to deliver;

“Total advertising and sponsorship ban, financial transparency for gambling companies, exit strategy from “machines gambling” (such as Slot machines, video lottery) through tools such as the authorization to install slot machines – VLT only in dedicated outlets (no bars, distributors, etc.), limitations in gambling times and increase of the minimum distance from sensitive places (schools and youth aggregation areas)” reads the Lega-5 Star document on gambling.

Both di Maio and Salvini have talked tough on further restricting Italy’s betting sector. However, as Italian commentators point out Lega-5 Star are novices at political governance, which may impede the coalition from executing any effective mandate.

Furthermore, though both populist, Lega and 5 Star differ on a number of policy goals and ideologies, with regards to tax, immigration, government expenditure and Italy’s EU relations.

Though a coalition government has been accepted, the question remains on whether Lega-5 Star can govern effectively or else Italy will head back to voting stations in 2019.

The populist coalition’s first policy test will come this Autumn when the new government announces its first budget, which all sector stakeholders will be eagerly anticipating.

Facing the reality of governance combined with Italy’s debt bond repayments, can Lega-5 Star afford to handicap a tax-efficient betting industry?  Put simply… reality now bites for di Maio and Salvini’s populist agenda.