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Under A New Law, Italy Blocks Access to 500 Offshore Online Casinos   21.2.2006

Online casino groups based in the UK are urging the European Commission to put an end to Italy's new laws that placed a ban on accessing offshore based online casinos. The Remote Gambling Association (RGA), which represents gambling interests, is reportedly seeking legal advice after the Italian Ministry of Economy and Finance recently adopted a law threatening to fine all local Internet Service Providers that will allow access to gaming sites operated from outside Italy.

Under the new Italian Finance Act of 2006, effective since January, Italian ISPs would be fined up to approximately $210,000 each time they allow a gambler to play at a 'blacklisted' online casino. To enhance the effectiveness of this new law, which was allegedly instituted to eliminate foreign competition, several decrees were passed earlier this month, declaring that, starting February 24th, local ISP's must block access to as many as 500 Internet casinos.

However, although European Commission laws allow governments to restrict cross-border services on moral grounds, Italy is not allowed to ban access to foreign online casinos simply because it fears competition. Also, the RGA has asked the EC to invalidate these restrictions, as it argues that Italian consumers would otherwise suffer from reduced competition in the Internet gaming industry. A spokesperson for the RGA was reported as saying that the association is expected to consider its options towards the end of February










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