Italian Poker Players Face New RestrictionsJuly 29, 2009 9:26 am
New online gaming laws in Italy introduced Monday mean that poker players are no longer permitted to play on the international version of PokerStars.
This is not the first time the Italian government has curtailed online gaming activities in the country. In 2006 all Internet Service Providers (ISPs) from gaming outlets that were outside of Italy were blocked in an attempt to force consumers to only play on government controlled companies. However, the government withdrew its semi-ban after the EU said this was an infringement on open competition and would levy fines and penalties against the government.
Since then the Italian government and the EU have been ironing out the do and don’ts of their online gaming law, while PokerStars continued operating within the country. However, on February 20th a set of rules which were submitted by Italy’s State Monopolies Autonomous Administration (AAMS) were eventually agreed on and although a little complicated, basically ruled that only tournament play was permitted and subject to AAMS approval, thus precluding cash games on Italian sites; Italian sites can only accept Italian taxpayers and the operating site’s servers must be located in Italy. In addition, players would be monitored for time spent on the site and restricted if deemed too long.
On July 27th, these and other regulations were implemented but despite the changeover period many Italian players were taken by surprise by these changes. PokerStars have tried to inform players of theses changes and in an e-mail explained:“We have no choice in this matter. The law that was passed recently by the Italian Parliament has made it very clear that offering real money online poker games to Italian residents can only be done by the sites that hold an AAMS license, like our PokerStars.it site, and the operators that breach this provision are committing a criminal offense. Note that this new law has been submitted for approval to the European Union, and the approval was granted.”
The e-mail continued: “Starting from the 27th of July 2009, Italian players will not be able to play at PokerStars.com tables any longer, but they will be able to either transfer the assets to PokerStars.it or convert their PokerStars.com account into a PokerStars.it account if they do not have one already”,
These changes will undoubtedly affect many poker players and professionals within Italy and combined with the recent ban in Russia and continued online ban in the US, online poker will have to face an ongoing battle if it is to be accepted worldwide.