Italy’s New PM Keeps Gambling Sector in Lockdown

The new Prime Minister of Italy, Mario Draghi, announced that land-based gambling establishments would remain under lockdown until April 6. The strict Covid-19 restrictions affect more than 400,000 families’ lives and income and cut €4.5 billion from Italy’s treasury just from gambling.

New Prime Minister Keeps COVID Restrictions

The new Prime Minister of Italy, Mario Draghi, has extended the lockdown measures for gambling venues until April 6. Following the collapse of the former government coalition DP-5Star, Draghi stepped in office on February 13 and immediately announced that gambling venues would not reopen until at least early April.

The restriction means that Italy’s gambling establishments, such as betting shops, casinos, arcades, and gaming halls, will all remain shuttered. Other measures include the prohibition of social gatherings and a change of working hours for bars, pubs, and ice cream shops from 5 am to 6 pm. 

The government tries to avoid a nationwide curfew while hoping that the restrictions will help to reduce the spread of the virus. 

Italian Betting Leadership had urged the government for leniency on restriction, asking Draghi’s office to allow gambling venues in the Italian province to reopen in “yellow zones” where infection rates were low.

Lockdown Affects Many While Gambling Leaders Are in Dark

Former coalition government DP-5Star introduced strict COVID-19 restrictions, which resulted in all of Italy’s land-based gambling venues and other establishments remaining under lock and key. Furthermore, these restrictions affect more than 150,000 industry workers as well as the income of more than 400,000 people across Italy.

Gambling leaders and retailers are yet to receive any information on when they should expect to open for business. Gambling venues contribute more than €4.5 billion to Italy’s treasury but are kept in the dark and continue to be under government-enforced lockdown.

Meanwhile, online gambling hit a record high gross gaming revenue of €359 million in December last year.

Italy’s gambling businesses gathered together last month to protest COVID restrictions. Under the banner of “Legal Gaming Workers,” many gambling workers held a public protest in the cities of Milan and Rome against Italy’s COVID restrictions.

More than 170 other businesses such as bingos, arcades, and bars have joined in to support the protest. What fueled the protest is the fact that gambling venues have been closed for more than 7 months, and it is uncertain when they’ll be open for visitors.

A further argument for the protest is that land-based gambling venues are better regulated and safer for clients.

Italy received €250 billion COVID-relief from the EU, and people are waiting to see how their PM will distribute the funds.

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