A EUR 70 million penalty imposed on 10 Italian video lottery concessionaries by the Italian gambling regulator have been thrown out by the public court of Lazio. The penalties were for the failure to integrate lottery systems with new monitoring servers set up by the regulator between 2005 and 2008.
With new, tighter Italian gambling laws, companies were expected to do more to prevent fraud on their machines, something that the operators stress they did and something that the court agreed with.
The courts judgment says that a reporting system set up by the operators to report the volume of plays meant the state did not incur any economic damage that would justify the harsh penalties.
Yet this piece of Italian gambling news did not result in celebration from the companies involved, as the gambling regulator is expected to return with a EUR 2.5 billion penalty against licensees for this same lack of connection.
This new monitoring system was set up by the Italian state and IT provider Sogei to monitor, in real time, the actions of the machines in question. It was hoped that this real time reporting would help to prevent fraud in an industry under pressure to reform.
With foreign online and mobile casinos flocking to Italy – especially from the UK – Italian operators are hopeful that the public court of Lazio will continue to support them against the regulator. If the penalties are cancelled, the possibility for new outside funding into the Italian gambling industry will grow, offering players greater freedom.
With the Italian government still operating sporadic blocks on foreign online casinos, local operators are essential. Since the market was opened up in 2007, most licenses have been taken by local firms, while some major players, such as Ladbrokes and William Hill, have a presence in Italy.