Since 2006 Italy has become the largest gambling market in the eurozone. Thanks to its profitability, many operators want a pìece of the action, but only a few earn the priced AAMS concession to make business in the country..
Requirements are hefty. From at least 1,5 million turn-over, strict customer good practices, and very limited entries every year, only the best and punctual earn their spot. However, taxes and the ever-changing legislation puts in balance the cost of becoming a licensee against the risk of offering wagers as an offshore operator.
Online gambling is fully legal in Italy, and any operator can address their service to the wager hungry customers. However, things are not that simple. The Amministrazione Autonoma dei Monopoli di Stato – Autonomous Administration of the State Monopolies- is the regulator of a state monopoly that profits from the taxes imposed over its licensed operators and it won’t allow any reductions in its tax collection
Getting a spot from the AAMS in the italian online gambling is not an easy task. Operators must be alert for the limited licenses calling done by the AAMS. Operators must have a proven track of profitability with at least 1,5 million turn-over for the past two-year; high standard Know Your Customer and Anti-Money Laundering practices; and abide several taxations and requirements imposed by the regulator.
While non AAMS operators can evade the levy, it won’t be for too long. The AAMS enforcer Agenzia delle Dogane en di Monopoli (ADM) is actively tracking down any unlicensed operators in its territory. Once caught, the least they can expect is being part of the +4500 blacklisted operators.
The Agency protects customers zealously from problem gambling and scams. It enforces the payment of any betting transaction and it has become a figure on which customers and (licensed) operators alike can rely when things turn off-rail.
Is worth to note that any customer gambling with an unlicensed customer leaves out of harm.
In this regard, Non-AAMS sites have a major advantage. As not being restricted by advertisement bans and IBAS they can address more attractive promotions than their licensed counterparts.
Because licensed operator cannot promote their search ranks on Google or any other platform, licensee complains of being caged with these impositions, as blocks have however proved largely ineffective in preventing Italian players from accessing other sites which haven’t received authorisation from AAMS, being easily circumvented with the use of new domains, and redirects once the capture their customers attention.
In recent years gambling taxes increased, and so has done the concern of the licensed operator on which they are imposed. Only as an operator they must pay 22% on the revenues with higher fees over the activity the made, meaning that if the choose offers skill games like poker the should pay an extra 3% while casinos have a larger imposition of an additional 10% After the COVID pandemics disrupted the sector, an additional turn-over levy of 0.5% ((20% gross income tax equivalent). Will be imposed until the end of 2021.
Customers are also the target of gambling winnings as they must declare them and have its 20% deduction, something that eventually must face if the AAMS ever found that they are gambling on the unlicensed operator.
In this last case, non-licensees don´t pay any taxes but are the target of prosecution for offering illicit gambling under the supervision of the Italian administration.
Corruption is a serious issue in the Italian jurisdiction. Several scandals in sports betting associated with match-fixing, and illegal betting along with international operations created to launder money have forced the AAMS to take a more active and stricter role ensuring that its licensees are complying with at least the bare minimums regarding the anti-money laundering and KYC standard, facing severe penalties if they ever fail.
The situation has put non-licensees in a risky position as the AAMS will use any means to ensure the transparency of the industry.
With 1,4 million of Italian being problem gamblers and 400,000 of them deemed as severe problem gamblers of its population deemed as severe problem gamblers, the AAMS puts pressure over licensees to prevent any furthering.
One of the solutions has been a mandatory self-exclusion scheme that licensed operators must fulfil to prevent customers from furthering their addiction. Penalties on these regards are huge, as operators must manage and address any self-exclusion request form its customers.
Those under foreign jurisdiction are not necessarily forced to comply with the service. But again, failing to prevent customers from falling into problem gamblking makes any operators a target for a penalty.
As online gambling increases its popularity and relevance as a platform, the AAMS must acknowledge that the best way to enforce its high standards is by creating fair conditions for its licensees instead of barriers that also block access to ethic-driven gambling ventures.
Keeping with a harsh system will only promote the abandonment of its licensees, leaving the online market again in a grey zone where only rogues and illegal operators thrived, losing the AAMS the battle to protect the gambbling industry.
This article does not necessarily reflect the opinions of the editors or management of EconoTimes