Italy has a long and interesting history of gambling – as a form of entertainment, it was present in ancient times when the Romans seemed to love gambling on practically everything. Today, many Italians participate in lotteries, bet on sports, and play various casino games. The Italian gambling legislation is considered fairly liberal, allowing practically all forms of gambling to be carried out in both land-based and online environments.
Compared to the rest of Europe, Italy’s approach to gambling is more positive and straightforward. Although offered in a highly regulated environment, this form of entertainment is available to everyone, except for minors, of course. Both local and foreign firms can apply for a license, whether for land-based or online betting and gambling operations, as long as they meet all requirements. Unlike some countries in Europe, there is a single authority that regulates the market and is responsible for the supervision of the industry and the issuing of licenses.
Short History of Gambling in Italy
Many of the modern types of betting and gambling originate from Italy, a country considered to be the birthplace of bingo, sports betting, baccarat, and more. Roman legionnaires are known to have played various games of chance such as the predecessor of backgammon, Ludus Duodecim Scriptorum. Over the following centuries, different dice and card games were invented in Italy, while baccarat came into existence around the 14th century. After gaining popularity, it was transported in France and from there, across Europe.
2World's First Casino
The world’s first casino was Italian, although the word itself did not become popular until several centuries after that. This was the Ridotto, a gambling house, which started operating in 1638 in Venice, Italy. Visitors there used to play card games, Basetta, and Biribi. The venue was opened by the Great Council of Venice to provide regulated gambling during the carnival season and bring revenue to state coffers.
3Private Gaming Clubs
After the Government closed it in 1774, clandestine gambling activities were carried out in private homes and gaming clubs. The word for house “casa” and its derivative “casino”, which means villa or social club, became associated with gambling and gambling venues. It was later reopened and renamed to what is now known as Casino di Venezia.
Legal Landscape in Italy
The legal landscape in Italy is quite straightforward, at least when it comes to gambling and online casinos, in particular. The country is divided into 20 administrative regions but they have no legislative or other authority on gambling activities. All forms of gambling, including land-based and interactive operations, must be authorized and regulated at a state level. This is one of the most basic principles in the Italian gambling legislation and it is clearly stated in Article 1 of Legislative Decree no.496 of 14 April 1948. Therefore, any non-authorized gambling activity is considered illegal, while the most serious cases are deemed a criminal offense.
All forms of gambling in Italy are regulated by primary legislation, which includes multiple Civil Code provisions and some specific laws. Gambling activities are also governed by secondary legislation, i.e. the regulations issued by the national gaming authority Agenzia delle Dogane e dei Monopoli (ADM). Under Italian law, online gaming operations can be carried out only after obtaining an Italian license. Both land-based and interactive gambling is prohibited for minors (individuals under the age of 18).
Key Pieces of Gambling Legislation
Laws Regarding Land-Based Gambling
Abruzzo Decree and Online Gambling
According to the current legislation, Ministerial Decree of 12 March 2004, gaming machines are divided into three types and the first one is “Comma 7c” skill-without-payment machines where the prizes are not cash but small items worth up to €20. VLTs (video lottery terminals) are known as “Comma 7a” machines and offering prizes up to €5,000 (networked jackpots of up to €100,000), they can be installed only in betting shops, bingo halls and gaming houses. ADM Decree dated 29 May 2013 introduced new technical rules for the production and offering of AWP (Amusement with Prizes) machines. They pay out up to €100 and have a minimum payback rate of 74%.
Sports betting, including system-based fixed odds bets, is regulated by several different decrees. Another popular form of legalized gambling is totaliser-based sports betting and it includes games such as Totocalcio, Totogol, Big Match and Big Race. Betting on horses is also a legal option and is regulated by the ADM. The legal framework also has multiple provisions regarding instant lotteries, delayed-draw lotteries, and bingo. Once again, a large number of rules and decrees have been passed to allow these games and determine the exact technical conditions for their organization, advertising, taxations, etc.View more...
Taxation and Advertising
The regulatory authority responsible for supervising online casinos and all forms of land-based and Internet gambling on a national level is the Agenzia delle Dogane e dei Monopoli (ADM) or the Customs and Monopolies Agency. It was established by Article 57 of Legislative Decree No. 300 of 30 July 1999 as one of the three main tax agencies in the country, the others being the State Property Agency and the Revenue Agency.
Initially, its sole responsibility was the customs but in 2012, pursuant to Decree-Law No. 95 of 6 July 2012, it incorporated the Autonomous Administration of State Monopolies (AAMS), the former regulatory body for the gambling industry. The new agency, ADM, now has two main departments – Customs and Monopolies, and it is only politically dependent on the Ministry of Economy and Finance. This means that the authority has regulatory, administrative, patrimonial, organizational, accounting and financial autonomy.
ADM regulates online games and casino operations and issues secondary legislation, relating to gambling. It is responsible for enforcing all relevant regulatory provisions, for collecting taxes, and for combating illegal gambling activities. The agency also has the right to issue and revoke licenses if it detects compliance issues or illegal activity. Licensees are allowed to offer gambling products and services they have been authorized for only to Italian residents.
The agency opens a licensing procedure once in several years and any gaming operator licensed anywhere within the European Economic Area (EEA) is eligible to apply. The firm must have recorded a minimum gaming turnover of €1.5 million over the last two years and it must comply with the standard “fit and proper” requirements. Under the current anti-money laundering legislation, online operators are required to identify and verify players who make transactions over €1,000.