The remarkable outcome of the Italian referendum on the revision of the country's constitution, has left the future of the Italian gaming machine up in the air.
The emphatic “no” vote to prime minister Matteo Renzi’s reforms has given another resounding shock to the EU’s fabric, following from the summer’s Brexit vote.
Renzi is now to resign, but he went on the record a few weeks ago promising to decimate the Italian gambling machine industry and insiders had gloomily predicted that as many as one-third of the country’s estimated 400,000 AWP machines would be removed.
Today, Alessio Crisantemi, director of Gioconews, the Italian gaming industry’s news service, told InterGame: “The situation is crazy. “No-one knows what will happen to the gaming industry. Perhaps in a day or two more it will become clearer.
“It is very much a case of ‘here we go again’ for the industry. Just when a reform of the industry appeared to be close – or at least a reorganisation of the industry – the discussions may have to begin again. For many, it will be a sigh of relief as the government had announced a plan at the Conferenza Unifacata [the constitutional body dealing with reforms which concern the regions and municipalities], to hit the industry.
“But we really do need some reorganisation in the gaming industry and now it becomes even more essential. We need some reorganisation to protect players and the local authorities, with new rules. An excessive reduction in the number of machines may be a problem for operators but the worst thing would be total standstill.
“Any possible negotiation is now postponed.”
He points out that the president of the republic now has the responsibility to keep government working for the sake of ensuring stability. Crisantemi said that this process would be lengthy and in the meantime the question of the gaming industry would not be high on the country’s list of priorities.
“If the Renzi government had already prepared amendments for the machine market to be presented in the Senate, after reaching an agreement with the local authorities, then it could still be continued.” Those proposals included an extra €160m in taxes and the removal of thousands of AWPs.
“I believe that it all has to be redone. The Italian Chamber of Deputies will have the task of reworking all aspects of Italian life, including the future of gaming.”
One senator from the Democratic Party, Franco Mirabelli, confirmed that it was “too early” to make predictions about what will happen to Italian gaming and added: “But I believe that the Conferenza Unificata will continue to work on the matter and amendments will be presented. We still anticipate the planned reduction of 30 per cent in the number of AWPs in 2017.”