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Italy – Gaming law changes further liberalize sportsbetting

Gaming laws in Italy for sportsbetting are increasingly trying to accomodate operators’ needs. The entrance of new major operators in the Italian sportsbetting market and the liberalization of gaming laws that for a decade had been very restrictive are now followed by further measures boosting the sportsbetting liberalization expected to increase the product offering in the market.

Status of gaming laws for sportsbetting

Up to quite recently, Italian online licensed operators were allowed by local gaming laws only to offer bets and events included in the official schedule published from time to time by the regulator, AAMS. However, the scenario changed with the coming into force of gaming laws on the so called “Palinsesto Complementare” allowing operators to offer, in parallel with the bets/events of the official schedule published by the regulator, also their own additional types of bets and events.

Such liberalization went through a transitional process given the initial suspicious approach by the regulator that did not trust the ability of operators to properly certify the results of their bets/events. And indeed the approval process of new types of bets and events requires under Italian gaming law to go through a quite in-depth approval process where operators have to provide at least two different types of reliable sources of information of the results of bets.

The move from the gaming regulator

Such regulatory boundary had become a major hurdle for some live bets whose result was not available through official sources of information such as the website of the football association such as the next corner during a time window. Operators would have been obliged to obtain and store the recording of entire events for 10 years which was extremely expensive and risked to breach IP owners’ rights.

But the Italian regulator is recently following a more market oriented approach and this is why it just approved regulations allowing to certify bets whose result is not available through official sources of information by means of “elements, news and information objectively verifiable” that will be assessed by the regulator.

Consequences of such change

This apparently “minor” change is expected to considerably foster the competition in the sportsbetting market on the types of bets offered by operators and might represent a substantial challenge for Italian operators that are not accustomed to these new types of bets, while is a considerable opportunity for foreign operators.

It is not surprising that William Hill has been the leading operator in the Italian sportsbetting market during the last months and Paddy Power and Bwin are considerably growing, with bet365 that is now the strongest contender for the leadership in the market.

Italian online sportsbetting data are quite positive in the last months showing a major increase in the figures that is coupled by the growth of the online casino market where the decision by some casino suppliers to shut down their .COM operations targeting Italian players attracted a further flow of players from the .COM market.

The next months are expected to be crucial for the growth of the market and the regulator is doing his best to make the Italian licensed gaming offering comparable in terms of available games/bets and potential profitability to the .COM market. And feel free to contact me, Giulio Coraggio (giulio.coraggio@dlapiper.com) to discuss or partecipate to the consultation. Also follow us on Google+, in our IPTitaly group on LinkedIn and on Twitter.

Permanent link to this article: http://blogs.dlapiper.com/mediaandsport/2014/10/italy-gaming-law-changes-further-liberalize-sportsbetting/