Italian betting leadership replied to parliamentary discussions on the implementation of a new 0.75% tax on betting and virtual sports wagers to collect funds for ‘distressed Italian sports.’
The Italian Parliament continues to negotiate the terms of its ‘Revival Decree’ – a vital mandate to help business and society’s recovery from COVID-19’s long-term consequences.
To the dismay of betting incumbents, MPs debated last week the possible implementation of a 0.75% tax on all betting-related wagers – online, retail and virtual sports content.
In support of the measure, ministers said a direct wagering tax was needed to assist the continued funding of Italian sports by the government and its associated development programmes.
All Italian gambling trade bodies lambasted MPs actions by issuing a swift response, alleging that COVID-19 discussions had been hijacked to further punish the industry.
Retail trade bodies Acadi (gaming machines) and Sistema Gioco (betting shops) released a joint statement calling for the Parliament to immediately drop any talks on “hypothetical taxes at a time when Italian gambling is living in anguish”.
Acadi and Sistema Gioco have suggested that their members are “in bewilderment that the government would pursue a 0.75% sports wagering tax, that would increase the overall tax burden on Italian betting’s commercial chain to over 30%.”
The trade bodies reported that Italian betting was ‘discriminated’ and told MPs that the government had made no promises of reopening or government funds to solve the crisis – “this is a dramatic situation compared to what is foreseen for other sectors.”
In the meantime, the Italian online gaming group LOGiCO said a wagering levy would literally be “a gift to the underworld.”
Writing to Parliament, President Moreno Marasco of LOGiCO stated that licenced online incumbents should not “digest an umpteenth tax that harasses legal firms to operate in a market that has doubled its tax demand to + 40%.”
He warned: “The threat of a wagering tax represents the extinction of the legal circuit with the consequence of lost guarantees and protections, leading to the “flight” of international operators. A real gift to the underworld that will continue to thrive in this sector. ”
Marasco told MPs that Italian sports and Series A had previously requested that the government lift its Sports betting advertising / sponsorship limits on the Dignity Decree to help sports overcome the crisis.
“The betting sector has always supported sport and society with annual financing which is already foreseen by the gaming sector with a contribution to the national State Budget of over €400 million, destined for sport and health organisations,” Marasco added.
“A support which must continue, without penalising the legal gaming offer and users’ choices, especially since in 2018 the tax has already increased.”
Addressing football issues, the chief of LOGiCO said UEFA had already introduced ’emergency intervention,’ which will allocate funds through national leagues to struggling clubs.
He also said that if Italian football needed further support the government should mirror French actions, which saw the government guarantee a loan of €225 million to be distributed across all professional clubs.