Italy’s new coalition government appears set to do some major damage to the local gambling industry, according to their new policy framework.
On Tuesday, the latest draft of the ‘government of change’ coalition agreement between the Five Star Movement (M5S) and League parties – which won the most votes in the March general election – was leaked to Italian media.
While some of the original leaked draft’s anti-European Union proposals have been watered down in the latest draft, the two paragraphs relating to the gaming industry remain intact and spell trouble for local operators.
The previous Italian government had imposed a 35% reduction in the number of amusement with prizes (AWP) machines and video lottery terminals (VLT) in Italian retail shops, but the coalition agreement talks of “the elimination of gambling machines (slot machines, video lottery terminals) and strong limitations on forms of gambling with repeated bets.”
Curiously, while the above text appears to threaten the total recall of all electronic gaming, the document goes on to advocate “the authorization to install slot machines only in defined places (no bars, distributors, etc.) and the increase of the minimum distance from sensitive places (schools and youth centers).”
While the coalition appears to want to have it both ways on the AWP/VLT front, it’s more specific in its call for “an absolute ban on [gambling] advertising and sponsorships.” The document also calls seeks to impose an “obligation to use a personal card to prevent child risk; imposition of spending limits; tracking of suspicious cash flows.”
The coalition parties were voted into power through populist rhetoric, and catering to the mob clearly takes precedence over honoring the country’s €2.3t debt load. The gaming industry contributed over €10b to state coffers last year, and €6b of that came via AWP/VLT taxes. Roughly €140m came via Italian-licensed online gambling operators, who clearly won’t be happy with the proposed advertising ban.