by Christopher Eluemuno in
eSports Betting News

The Esports industry has gone under the radar in Italy for a long while, but according to Italy’s Undersecretary of Finance, Federico Freni, the government will look to step in and regulate esports.

This report came in briefly after the Italian esports industry was stunned on April 29, 2022, following the local customs and Monopolies Agency (Agenzia delle Dogane e dei Monopoli) seizing all available devices and shutting down a number of esports and gaming arenas around the country. Gaming PCs, driving stimulators peripherals, and even consoles, were seized and considered non-standard equipment as a result.

The Agency stated publicly that the involved enterprises did not comply with Italian requirements, which led to the seizures. However, in Italy, LAN video gaming devices are categorized as iGaming devices, which include, arcade machines, gambling, and slot machines.

Only three places were closed on the 29th, according to the Customs Agency. However, this sparked significant concern also because the Agency can levy fines ranging from €5000 to €50,000 on every seized item. As a result, numerous businesses have stopped operating their gaming activities in order to avoid being penalized. Esports bars might continue to provide catering operations, but customers would be unable to play video games for the time being.

The Agency’s decision was apparently prompted by casino owners who wondered why LAN rooms and esports bars, which provide gaming gear as a service, were not held to the same standards (duly registered and tax payable) as they are.

The Italian Chamber of Deputies members Daniele Belotti, and Luca Carabetta as well as Senator Simona Pergreffi, were geared towards regulating the space by the esports industry on May 3, 2022. This led to them fostering discussions in the Italian legislature for particular regulations of the industry.

As a result, it seems that the country will adopt particular esports regulations, having consulted esports entrepreneur Alessio Cicolari.

Freni had stated in the Chambers of Deputies on May 4, 2022, that the government holds the power to consider and effect the best possible regulations. This he says will guarantee stability and birth the regulations at the earliest possible time.

“The government reserves the possibility to take into consideration the most appropriate regulations, for the purposes to guarantee a stable and efficient regulation as soon as possible.”

Cicolari, who owns the Bergamo-based Esport Palace also had his gaming devices seized. He talked about the seizure and what it means to the community. He also spoke about the benefits the regulations will offer to the community and the general growth of esports in Italy.

“Yesterday I wasn’t happy, but today I am. The lack of specific regulations was always a challenge for us to promote events in Italy. It has been a small step for a man but one giant leap for the scene”.

He was of the opinion that new esports regulations in particular areas will help the community attract more investments because local brands and business owners will feel secure seizing esports financing opportunities.

While there exists no clear date for the resumption of closed esports venues across Italy. Cicolari anticipates a provisional leave allowing the esports venues to operate will be issued soonest, pending when the government puts the regulations in place.

He also applauded the support of the community during the entire controversy. He believes the support gotten from the community played an integral role in the positive resolution attained. Stated that the union of the fans, media, professionals, and politicians was something he has never seen happen in the esports industry.

“The audience, the media, professionals of the industry, and some politicians were really supportive. It was a union that I had never seen before in the gaming and esports scene.”

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