ITALIAN ONLINE POKER BE CLASSIFIED AS A SKILL GAME?

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Interesting article from online-casinos.com


WILL ITALIAN ONLINE POKER BE CLASSIFIED AS A SKILL GAME?


Online poker operators in the European Union will be watching for an announcement on the Italian government's official definition of skill gaming, and whether it will embrace poker when Article 38 of law 248/2006 is signed, possibly as soon as next week.

Discussing the upcoming law, Interactive Gaming News this week examined the remarkable December 2006 turnabout by the Italians who had formerly strongly resisted Internet gambling, but instead decided to license and regulate it. Subsequently some 17 000 remote gaming licenses were created, covering horse racing, sports betting and skill games. But exactly what qualified as a skill game, and whether poker would fall within the definition, was not clear.

It is anticipated that this will be resolved when the act is signed into law, following extensive consultations between the Italian licensing agency AAMS and interested operators.

IGN reports that news leaked in Italy last week said that Economy Minister Signor Padoa-Schioppa will finally sign off on article 38 of law 248/2006, which will enable operators to offer a range of versions of poker as well as online versions of other card games popular in Italy. Other skill game offerings will include draughts (a.k.a. checkers) and Sudoku. Casino games such as roulette, however, will not be licensed in Italy, as they contain no element of skill.

Poker comes under very tight restrictions, but the issue may be open for discussion, industry consultant Graham Wood told IGN. The game may only be played in tournaments in which all players will pay in an equal amount to participate. Players may not participate in individual online games.

The government is reportedly considering allowing poker tournaments to be open to players from other EU Member States, but otherwise it will stay a purely Italian business, Wood said.

Other traditional Italian card games such as Briscola and Scopa also appear to be on the list, along with blackjack. Besides defining which skill games will be acceptable in Italy, the regulations have been completed for the taxation of those games. The treasury will collect 3 percent of each stake and will require no less than 80 percent of all stakes to go into the prize pool.

Wood claimed that the Italian government has taken so long to define skill games because it is brand new territory for them. U.K.-based skill games site King.com served as advisors during the process.

Operators such as 888, Ladbrokes, William Hill and Intralot, who were awarded licenses in December 2006, were also consulted as during the process, IGN reveals.

The first Italian gaming websites are expected to go live by the end of 2007.
 

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