eference is made in particular to online slots, which have different access and management costs and different prizes and payouts. The percentage of the stakes allocated to prizes may not be less than 85% for VLTs, for instance, instead of 90% for online gaming.
The first VLTs will soon be operational, as testing ended at the beginning of May, and the gaming systems are now in the technical authorisation process. But the online gaming market results obtained since then, both in terms of turnover and in terms of number of foreign operators that have applied for an Italian online licences, clearly demonstrate the success and growth potential of online products, which scares the VLT operators.
In 2010, a new tender procedure for remote gaming activities will also be launched. Applications will be open to companies located in the EEA with the capabilities to connect to the central system of the Italian gaming authority.
At present, the Italian gaming authority is already experiencing delays in the adoption of the implementation measures for the introduction of online casino games, and other measures have already been put in place to give an advantage to the current VLT concessionaires.
The Lower House of the Italian Parliament last week voted the draft bill to in favour of a decree on subsidies that include several provisions on gambling, such as the postponement of the VLT tender procedure to May 2011. The draft has now to be voted by the Senate for its final approval before the 25 May
If these provisions come into force, the opening of the market to new applicants for both slot machines (AWP) and VLT will suffer a year's delay, and the current 10 concessions will be extended and their payment obligations concerning the second tranche of VLT installation be postponed.
However these provisions are likely to be challenged before both national and European courts by operators, who will argue that the Italian system gives a competitive advantage to existing concessionaires over new operators - in conflict with the EU Treaty.