SBC Digital Italy has covered the hottest topics and news about the gambling industry in the country. The event’s speakers have discussed pressing issues, which need reconsideration from the government.
Is the current gambling law in Italy efficient? What stimulates the black market? Leading industry experts provided comprehensive answers to these questions.
The efficiency of present-day regulations is in question
Dr. Ekaterina Hartmann, Director of Legal and Regulatory Affairs at European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA), has noted that, in Italy, the black market is rising. There are many reasons for this, and one of them is the tax level, which is killing the gambling business. Illegal operators that don’t pay taxes offer more attractive odds to customers. According to her, the way out of this situation is to create an attractive regulated market. The Italian government together with operators should think about how they can regain balance.
Ludovico Calvi, Board Director at Lottomatica Betting Ltd, has confirmed this opinion saying that, unfortunately, unlicensed bookmakers have a considerable market share. Licensed operators emphasize that the black market is growing, but regulators don’t speak about this. Moreover, the increase in gambling revenue comes from the black market. The review of the current gambling legislation is necessary, and it will touch on both the online and retail sectors.
Marco Castaldo, Director (Betting & iGaming) at ASTRO, continued the topic and discussed the impact of the new government. He expects that it will launch a legislative review to reconsider present-day regulations in the gambling industry. However, the expert notes that it is early to say whether it will be an immediate change or delay in this process.
All session participants said that the pandemic had influenced the market immensely. Many companies couldn’t offset losses and restore confidence after the lockdown. In addition to this, COVID-19 accelerated the transition in consumer behavior, which also made operators transfer to a multi-channel model. The demand will contribute to the growth of the market that is why it needs reforms. At the same time, the industry participants still feel uncertainty about the future of their business.
Tal Itzhak Ron, Chairman and CEO at Tal Ron, Drihem & Co., has emphasized that Italy is a special jurisdiction, and not all licenses are enough for it. He has said that the availability of a cheap license isn’t the right permission to enter the market. Operators should have proper KYC and several PSPs to succeed.
Ad restrictions also give a boost to the black market
Advertising ban was another interesting topic that the speakers raised. Dr. Ekaterina Hartmann has expressed the idea that the balance in the Italian gambling industry can be achieved with properly balanced tax and advertising rules. Currently, the Italian government failed at finding it. Ad ban has a very negative effect on channeling and only helps the black market to thrive. The right code of conduct for advertising is a must-have for the regulated gambling business.
Giovanni Bertoli, CEO at Wall Street Football, highlighted the other side of the restrictions. According to him, the ban brought the necessity of innovation. Even if the law changes, innovation will remain with operators, and new technologies and platforms will help them to get more profit. Giovanni Bertoli has emphasized that innovations are free and legal advertising.
Pietro Lechiara, MD Italy at Betsson, has added that it’s high time for operators to start thinking out of the box and launch new business models. The advertising ban has forced them to work more and analyze what their strong points are. They also got the opportunity to create something different and be more customer-centric. Although operators have been too aggressive in marketing and got the ban from the government, it is unfair. Licensed companies aren’t allowed to advertise, while unregulated gambling services providers do this using fake affiliate websites, managing illegal campaigns on Google Ads until it stops them. Of course, licensed operators should find ways to promote themselves. Shaun Simmonds, MD at Superstar Digital, has said that the major sources of traffic for Italian gambling websites are direct and organic search.
Read more: Advantages of CPA marketing
Read more: Licenses for gambling: Europe in focus