Current Status & Future of Casino Gaming in Italy, G&L Winter 2012
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Current Status & Future of Casino Gaming in Italy, G&L Winter 2012

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Interview with Giulio Coraggio, Technology & Gaming Lawyer in Milan, Italy. ...

Interview with Giulio Coraggio, Technology & Gaming Lawyer in Milan, Italy.

Current Status & Future of Casino Gaming in Italy.
Published in Gaming & Leisure Magazine
www.gamingandleisuremagazine.com
Winter 2012 issue.

More in: Business
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  • 1. Winter12_G&L.qxd 12/15/12 12:33 PM Page 64 INTERNATIONAL GAMING Bill Healey GIULIO CORAGGIO, TECHNOLOGY & GAMING LAWYER IN MILAN, ITALY Though world-renown for some of the new entrants in the market obtained a its romantic reputation and relevant market share in short term shows that the many waterways which there is still room for new entrants as far as they are criss-cross through it, able to distinguish their products and services from Venice had also made its those of competitors consolidated in the market. mark on the casino gaming industry. “Il Ridotto” was G&L: 3rd December 2012 is an important date opened in the Italian city in for the Italian online gaming market. What will 1638 as the world’s first government-sanctioned the AAMS decree allow starting this December? casino. GIULIO: The 3rd December 2012 is an impor- In exploring the current status and future of tant date as from that date Italian licensed gam- gaming in Italy, we’re fortunate to be joined by ing operators will be entitled to launch online Giulio Coraggio, a highly experienced technolo- slot games. Indeed, the regulations governing the gy & gaming lawyer based in Milan. (a short bio kind of games were already in place from mid- of Mr. Coraggio follows the interview). 2011 as they were part of the package of regula- tions introducing poker card games and casino G&L: Italy’s Gaming Authority, Amministrazione table games, but the lobby of land-based video Autonoma dei Monopoli di Stato (AAMS) was lottery operators had pushed for a delay in the established in 2002 to monitor and regulate the launch of online slot games since such games national gaming industry. AAMS also publishes have features similar to those of land-based video regular reports on the status of the casino industry. Giulio Coraggio l a highly experienced technology lotteries but are subject to a better tax regime. What do recent AAMS statistics indicate for the & gaming lawyer based in Milan. health of the Italian gaming industry? Given that online slots represent at least 50%- on local regulations and foreign casino companies 60% of the turnover for most of the online casi- GIULIO: The last data published by AAMS that are able to contribute with their experience no operators, it does not seem too optimistic to shows an amazing growth of the Italian videolot- in running casinos and results achieved by such foresee that the turnover of casino games will tery market in the first 5 months of 2012 with a joint ventures. reach the same results achieved by cash card turnover of † 8,772 million which is more than games which was † 3,808 million in just the first the double of the turnover generated in the same For this purpose, it may be useful to mention 5 months of 2012 and represents together with period during year 2011 and is accompanied by that the management of a VLT casino does not skill games, poker tournament games and non- an aggregate growth of the land-based market require a local gaming license, but just an agree- slot casino games 65.4% of the entire Italian generating † 20,607 million from January to ment with the 10 licensed entities (which will online gaming market. May 2012. It is worth it to mention that such become shortly 13) managing the network con- data is on the top of those generated by the necting the machines to the servers of AAMS. G&L: The Politecnico di Milano monitors the Italian four "real" casinos and refer only to This makes an easier entrance into the market Italian gaming market. Recent reports show that machines located outside of them, mainly in the but the timing might be crucial as obviously a the online gaming market grows faster than any so called "mini-casinos" where AWPs and VLTs number of foreign casino operators are currently other type of e-commerce. How do statistics can be located. looking at Italy. compare between traditional games and newer online games? This market represents a massive opportunity for As per the online market, the launch of cash experienced casino operators which might bring poker games and casino table games in July 2011 GIULIO: There is no doubt that the launch of their experience in a market where so far only 4 gave a massive boost to the sector if it is consid- cash poker games has led on one hand to a con- casinos are allowed and local operators struggle in ered that the turnover of the Italian online gam- siderable increase in the turnover of the online creating the look and feel of real casinos. Indeed, ing market was of † 9,849 million in the entire gaming market, but on the other hand has ham- we recently saw some joint ventures between 2011 and has already reached † 6,842 million in pered traditional games such as sports betting local operators which can bring their know-how just the first 5 months of 2012. Also, the fact that and bingo. Indeed, card games and casino games 64 GAMING & LEISURE WINTER 2012 702.547.4545
  • 2. Winter12_G&L.qxd 12/15/12 12:33 PM Page 65 GIULIO CORAGGIO, TECHNOLOGY & GAMING LAWYER IN MILAN, ITALY now represent 66.8% while sports betting and bingo games saw a reduction in their turnover higher than 20%. However, AAMS recent moves might help such products because of the decree recently notified to the European Commission allowing the placing of bets that are not included in the official AAMS schedule (the "palinsesto"), the decrees just approved by the European Commission for betting exchange and bets on virtu- al events and the upcoming decree allowing operators to offer bingo variations. These new regulations might help traditional games to recover after the launch of casino and cash card games, but everything will depend on whether AAMS will switch also for bingo and sports betting games (as already done for casino and cash card games) from a tax regime based on the turnover to a taxation based on GPT. G&L: Each year, the University of Milan holds a conference on gaming. What are the ongoing discussions regarding non-Italian licensed websites that attract a relevant share of Italian players? Are there considerations on controlling these Casino Sanremo, Province of Imperia, Italy non-licensed, black market sites? up phase and they might contribute to its growth bringing value and a bet- GIULI: The data show that the black market is still around 35% of the entire ter service to players. Italian online gaming market which is an indicator that the regulated market Traditionally Italy has always encouraged investments as far as new entrants still has considerable potentials to grow. The launch of casino and cash card accept to comply with local laws. Also the current economic crisis is likely to lead games led to a reduction of the black market since players found that licensed to regulations fostering the sector because of the considerable tax entries generat- platforms have the same games available as the un-licensed websites, but ed by the gaming market. stronger measures against non-licensed operators are in the pipeline. Indeed, regulations were approved last year requiring the notification to G&L: Is there anything further you’d like to add? AAMS by financial entities of transactions engaged by Italian players with websites in AAMS blacklist which needs only an implementing decree to GIULIO: My comments above are a mere snapshot of a market that is still in a come into force. This measure might force both players (who can face criminal start-up phase and this might be the right time for investors to enter into the penalties themselves for playing on non-licensed websites) and operators market before it reaches a mature phase where investments will become more (which might face a criminal proceeding if found offering games to Italians expensive. without a local license) to switch to the regulated market. At the same time, AAMS recently published a bulletin circular clarifying G&L: We’d like to thank Mr. Coraggio for his vast insight into the Italian gam- that non-licensed operators offering games online or through betting shops ing industry. A bit on his background: (the so called "CTDs") to people located in Italy are obliged to pay Italian gam- ing taxes plus applicable penalties for lack of payment. Such circular is likely Giulio Coraggio (giulio.coraggio@dlapiper.com) is a gambling and Internet to be followed by actions from AAMS and the Italian tax authority against lawyer qualified both in Italy and in England and Wales and is working for operators for the recovery of retrospective taxes as recently occurred in Spain. DLA Piper, one of the largest international law firms in the world. Such changes are likely to force operators to get an Italian online gaming license if they want to keep targeting Italian players. From experience gained through assisting world leading online and land- based gambling, e-commerce, e-payment and search engine operators, Giulio G&L: Will an online gaming company need to be established in Italy (or the has become among most distinguished lawyers in the Italian market in advis- servers located in Italy) to apply for an Italian gaming license? ing clients on gambling law, e-commerce and information technology matters. In particular, Giulio advises many prominent foreign gambling operators on GIULIO: Absolutely not! This is a very common mistake, 2011 regulations both their day-to-day matters and major regulatory issues, the acquisition of entitle companies based in any country of the European Economic Area (includ- other gambling operators and suppliers, software/technology transfer and ing Gibraltar or Malta for instance) to hold an Italian license. Likewise, the servers license agreements, payment and sponsorship deals, advertising and privacy of the company can be placed in any country of the EEA. issues as well as on disputes with other operators and players. No regulation requires operators to have infrastructures or offices in Italy and this leads to a major tax saving as foreign operators will pay Italian gaming duties Giulio has been a frequent speaker at many conferences on gambling and but will pay corporate taxes of their country of establishment. Internet law topics, and is the blogmaster of the blog www.gamingtechlaw.com on gambling and Internet law issues. G&L: Have foreign operators been encouraged to invest into the Italian gaming market? Based in Bali, Bill has been consulting, installing and supporting solutions in the global golf and leisure industry since 1982. He has been involved with GIULIO: This is definitely the approach from AAMS. Foreign operators over 1000 systems installations in 40+ countries from North America to can bring their experience and knowledge of a market that is still in a start- Africa to Asia & Australia. V I E W T H E G A M I N G & H O S P I TA L I T Y R E S E A R C H C E N T E R AT W W W. G A M I N G A N D L E I S U R E M A G A Z I N E . C O M 65