Brexit: EEA membership requirement - could impact UK firms in Italy

8 July 2016

The UK's vote to leave the European Union has raised concerns over the impact this could have on UK companies working in EU gambling markets, notably Italy's, according to Giulio Coraggio, partner at law firm DLA Piper's Rome office. 

Coraggio addressed issues over the impact Brexit could have on companies licensed in the regulated Italian market in a recent a blog post.

He noted that current Italian law requires both online operators and AWP/VLT (amusement with prizes/video lottery terminals) licensees to ensure the license holder is registered in the European Economic Area (EEA) and that the technical infrastructure, hardware and software is in a country of the EEA.

Coraggio said that if the UK, which includes Gibraltar, completes its exit from the EU and leaves the EEA, this would mean companies established in the UK may not meet the requirements set out in Italian gaming law.

Those companies would need to either relocate to a different EEA country or assign their licence to an EEA firm, while the technical infrastructure dedicated to the licence must also be moved to an EEA country.

“The issue is not relevant only for operators, but also for suppliers,” Coraggio said.

“The requirement to place the technical infrastructure dedicated to the licence in an EEA country might lead to the renegotiation of gaming supply agreements.”

Coraggio added that while there is no immediate panic for those in the Italian market, he said it is time to make a decision on their future.

“With the upcoming award of new betting shop and online gaming licenses, operators might take this opportunity to adopt a long term approach also taking into account the Brexit implications,” Coraggio said.

“It might be possible that arrangements will be reached in order to ensure that the UK, or only Gibraltar, remain part of the EEA, but this situation of uncertainty is useful for the adoption a long term approach.”

Related article: Gibraltar Ministry eases fears over Brexit