The bottom line is that this ban is aimed at the online gaming industry. Whereas the big issue not only in Italy but across the world is that those guys who spend hours in terrestrial locations, and those offers interestingly enough are not affected by the gambling ban.
Could you summarize exactly what is happening to online gambling regulation in Italy now?
We had a big mess. We have a new government since last April. One of their first steps was introducing the gambling advertising ban, which was rather biased and not well planned. It will not solve the problem of gambling addiction. Besides, we also had new tax rates that were increased earlier this year. It’s bad news to those who were brave enough a year ago to apply for the Italian remote gaming license without the slightest idea of the collapse that was right around the corner.
Why did the government do this? Italians like to gamble, it’s a part of their culture. Is there any reason why this is happening?
In my view, it’s simply due to some very strong bias. If one was really serious in tackling a problem they would have to, they should have chosen a different approach. They should have hired an independent entity like a university or an agency not related to the industry and gather some numbers. Numbers of proven addiction problems over a period of time versus other social issues like smoking, drinking, reckless driving, and so on. They didn’t even bother to launch, as one would have expected of a serious government, a consultation process. They could have given a warning, provide some period for the industry representatives to fix things. So, this is all about politics. The Five Star movement, one of the two ruling parties in Italy, included in their manifesto that they would tackle gambling. This means that now they are able to claim that they deliver on that. How they manage to do it – it’s another story.
What do the operators do? Either they have a license or they are waiting for it to be issued, the operators willing to go into the Italian market…what is your advice for them?
Good luck –that is my advice. There is a market, which is still responding. This market is competitive and oversaturated. However, it’s most likely number one in Europe regarding numbers, passion, and potential. But also with these updated regulations in place, increased taxes, etc. What I would say to the new entrant clients is: “Get ready to go in the arena and fight”. It will definitely take brains in order to think outside the box, to come up with new approaches to advertising. It will also require financial resources, a special approach to a very particular Italian establishment, which is currently a mix of unprofessional, destructive, biased people, etc. So, it’s a sort of a jungle. You can not go into the jungle with a Swiss knife, you will need a big machete. Take a big machete and then go into the jungle.