Italy mulls reducing online sports betting tax, expanding betting options

italy-betting-changesItaly is taking steps to overhaul its online gambling regime, including reduced tax rates and increased sports betting options.

The biggest change is a shift from the onerous tax on betting turnover, which ranges from 2% to 5% depending on the type of wager. Under a new proposal expected to pass by the middle of March, online betting, bingo and tournament poker would now be subject to a maximum 20% tax rate on gross gaming revenue, the same system that already applies to online casino and cash poker verticals.

DLA Piper’s Italian market watcher Giulio Coraggio told eGaming Review the plan to set a uniform rate across all verticals was necessary to boost Italian-licensed operators’ chances of competing with internationally licensed competitors. The tax plan contains a provision for a reduction below 20% should the regulated market prove unable to make further headway.

Italy is also taking the leash off its online sports betting operators by bringing an end to the palinsesto ufficiale, the official list of accepted wagering types. When the market first launched a few years ago, Italian regulator AAMS kept an extremely tight lid on the types of markets licensed betting operators could offer. This list doubled in size in September 2013 and some forms of in-play wagers were finally permitted last October but operators still feel constrained compared to their dot-com brethren.

Under a proposal currently being weighed by the Italian government, betting operators would no longer have to rely on AAMS to monitor and settle sports betting markets. Coraggio said the government might also allow operators to offer non-traditional betting products like the ‘cash out’ feature that has proven popular among UK bettors.

Italy’s regulated sports betting market saw stakes rise 81% in January but lucky punters pushed revenue down 12% to €18.1m. Poker revenue was also down, falling 17% to €16.9m, dragged down by a 25% decline in cash games revenue to €9.1m, while tournament revenue dipped 4% to €7.8m. But casino revenue continued to grow, rising 15% to €25.9m.