After several delays, Italy has officially initiated the public tendering procedure for distribution of online gambling licences to the interested parties worldwide, which will last until March 19.

Although some of the most relevant international operators had already entered the Italian market, in light of this news, substantial portion of the so-far absent Industry’s leading names are also interested in entering the national market. Given the players are less and less attracted by the unlicensed offering, this process will result in increased percentage of channelling of online services, backed by very strict criminal penalties and fines. Here are the key changes to be introduced by the announced licencing procedure:

NUMBER OF LICENCES: It is planned that a total of 120 licenses will be awarded on a “first come first served basis” with no bidding process. However, we will probably be witnessing the case where at least 1/3 of planned licenses are to be awarded to the existing operators whose licenses had previously expired. Therefore, a total of €24 million could enter the nation’s budget only from the application fees.

ELIGIBILITY TO APPLY: Interestingly, the eligibility does not mention particular types of entities as the only ones eligible to apply. However, each interested operator without any of the European online gaming licenses (in Italy or another EU or EEA country) and with a turnover under € 1.5 M during the last 2 years will need to post an additional two-year warranty payment in this amount. Each interested operator must be in the official list authorised by Agency of Customs and Monopolies or hold an evidence issued by the government of the nation in which they have a registered or operational office.

TYPE OF SERVICES COVERED: All the games recognised by Italian legislation and which are not subject to exclusive licensing regime. In practice, we are speaking about an “umbrella” type of licencing regime, with sports betting, horse betting, casino, poker, skill games, fantasy sport, bingo, bets on virtual events included. Technical approval for each type of game is to be mandatory once the license had been awarded.

LICENCING FEE: The one-off fee has been set at € 200 k per granted licence. Additional € 100 k guarantee deposit will be mandatory for any EU or EEA-based legal entity.

LICENCES VALID UNTIL: December 31st,2022.
KEY EVALUATION CRITERIA: Operators will be judged on their technical, IT and organisational know-how, as well as financial and operational stability.

DURATION OF THE LICENCING PERIOD: Once all the applications are filed and the licencing application window is closed, we will be facing a probable 3 to 5 month-period from the application to the award of the licenses, which in practice means until the end of September.

It is worth mentioning that, back in 2016, the Italian gambling market had already exceeded the € 1 bn. figure of income generated. In terms of the 2017 GGR figures, the Italian sports betting market, having generated the € 556 million of gross income, saw a 59% increase when compared to 2016.

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