Italian gambling regulations raise Maltese concerns

An Italian draft decree on the regulation of remote gaming which lays down requirements for remote (online) gambling operators seeking to do business in Italy has raised concerns from Malta, in the form of a Detailed Opinion.

The European Commission has also expressed reservations on a number of aspects of the decree particularly on games, IT and consumer protection. According to a report in, these decisions prevent Italy from adopting the decree in its current format before 29 April 2008 and should result in amendments.

The European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA) has welcomed the European Commission’s decision to issue these formal comments on the Italian draft decree but wants recognition for protective measures already practised by operators licensed in other EU states.

Sigrid Ligné, EGBA Secretary General said: “The Commission’s decision suggests that even if Italy has demonstrated a genuine improvement in bringing its legislation into line with EU law, the Italian remote gaming legislation still contains measures that don’t serve a clear legitimate public order interest.”

In particular, the EGBA believes that in establishing a level of protection for Italian citizens, the Italian authorities must take into account the protection already provided by operators that are fully regulated, licensed and established in other EU jurisdictions.

The new decree, the report says, also seeks to impose severe restrictions on the types of games which a player based in Italy can bet on, thereby reducing competition, all to the ultimate detriment of the consumer.

Finally, the obligation for remote operators to connect continuously to the Italian regulator AAMS’s centralized IT system generates additional costs and is a technological barrier for foreign operators.

Even if this requirement has been imposed to limit crime prevention, it is disproportionate and does not take into account other less burdensome and less costly technological measures that already exist in other EU jurisdictions and have demonstrated success in achieving the same objective. “We hope that in the coming weeks, the Italian authorities will amend their draft decree in an attempt to solve the few remaining issues” added Ligné.

The Italian draft decree was notified to Commissioner Verheugen’s services and Member States under Directive 98/34/EC at the end of December 2007. The notification procedure is aimed at preventing EU member states from creating new barriers to the internal market freedoms by giving the opportunity to the European Commission and other EU member nations to evaluate the content of a draft law before it is adopted.