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Italian OnLine Gambling Barriers Removed

by Ulrika Lomas, for, Brussels

07 May 2010

The European Commission (EC), by use of its infringement procedures, has obtained access to a wider choice of authorized online gambling services for Italian citizens, as a result of changes made to Italy's laws on online gambling.

Before Italy changed its law, the Italian Olympic Committee and the National Horse Breeders Enhancement Society had the exclusive right to organize sports betting, including online gambling. As a result, other legitimate European gambling operators could not offer their online services in Italy. Moreover, access to their web sites was effectively blocked from Italy.

While European Union (EU) law permits member states to restrict the offering of gambling services in the public interest, for example to prevent gambling addiction or organized crime, such restrictions must be coherent with the member state's own behaviour in offering the very same services. Furthermore, any measures taken by member states to restrict the market have to be necessary, proportionate and non-discriminatory.

In a statement, the EC said that it acted upon receiving a complaint in 2003. After investigating the case, the EC found that Italy's restrictions on foreign service providers were disproportionate, and started legal proceedings against Italy in 2006 for breaching EU rules on the freedom to provide services. However, following a dialogue between the EC and the Italian authorities, Italy notified the Commission in 2009 it had amended its laws and the EC has decided to close the case.

With its new law, Italy has now opened its online gambling market. Citizens in Italy will now have a broader choice of online gambling services for sports betting, which will continue to be authorized and supervised by the Italian authorities. Meanwhile, other European gambling operators will have the possibility to apply for Italian licences and offer their services in Italy. Nevertheless, gambling will continue to be safeguarded in the general interest in order to protect vulnerable consumers and to prevent gambling addiction as well as criminal activities.

A comprehensive report in our Intelligence Report series examining the new possibilities that offshore e-commerce open up for business, and analysing the offshore jurisdictions that have led the way in offering professional e-commerce regimes for international business, with a particular focus on e-gaming, is available in the Lowtax Library at and a description of the report can be seen at
TAGS: business | European Commission | commerce | law | e-commerce | gambling | legislation | Italy | European Union (EU) | Europe

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