The battle over the newly tightened gambling regulations in Italy moved to the legal arena this week with the announcement of a verdict in a high-profile appeal.
A top European Union court has ruled against a gambling company, which had appealed against the level of Italian gambling taxation on the grounds that it was too high. Bookmaker Stanleybet had appealed to the European Court of Justice on the basis that the tax regime in Italy discriminated against companies based in other countries.
The case arose after Stanleybet received an €8 million tax bill. They argued that the tax was illegal on the basis that their headquarters were in Malta, where they also paid taxes. Their argument was that they had effectively been double-taxed.
But the five-judge panel of the court found that there was no discrimination. They said that the tax applied to all operators who take bets on Italian territory, and there was no distinction made on the basis of where those operators were based. They also added that member nations were under no obligation to alter their tax system to ensure that double taxation didn’t take place. And they concluded that there had been no discrimination in this case:
“The national legislation at issue in the main proceedings does not give rise to any discriminatory restriction as regards Stanleybet Malta and Stanley Parma and does not interfere, in their regard, with the freedom to provide services.”
Successive Italian governments have brought in measures to more tightly regulate the betting sector in that country. In 2019, the Lega-5Star coalition government introduced an advertising ban that applied to all gambling operators, and the new 5Star-DP coalition has followed up with a series of measures and proposals that have concerned gambling firms. These include a new national registry of gambling incumbents and an increased range of fines and penalties for transgressions.