Italy’s casino projected to open next month

By Ethan Anderson Updated
Europe’s oldest casino is closed

Italy’s land-based gambling operators have been ordered to remain shut until at least May 3.

Calvin Ayre reports that gambling operators will likely be the last to qualify for a new staggered reopening plan in the country.

On Saturday, Italy’s government published its latest decree on retail commerce lockdowns to prevent further transmission of coronavirus.

Betting shops, bingo halls and slots/video lottery terminal rooms have all been ordered to remain shut until at least May 3.

The government is planning a staggered reopening of retail operations starting May 4, with strict rules regarding how many customers will be allowed inside shops.

For example, shops occupying less than 40 square metres will only be allowed to admit a single customer at a time, and retail staff must wear masks, gloves and conduct twice-daily cleanings of the whole operation.

By May 11-12, the government plans to reopen some court facilities and professional offices.

It’s possible that some bars, restaurants and other ‘entertainment’ venues will be allowed to reopen starting May 18, but much will depend on the number of new coronavirus infections.

Horseracing meetings in Rome and Milan have been told they will remain under lockdown until at least May 14.

Online sportsbook operators will be pleased to learn that by the end of May, the government hopes to resume play of professional sports, including Serie A football, although this will only take place ‘behind closed doors’.

The government doesn’t expect to open sports venues to the public until June or July, and even then this will be limited to venues with small capacity.

The current lack of sports activity and closure of retail operators has pummelled Italy’s betting industry, with revenue in March falling by nearly three-fifths year-on-year to just 75.3 million euros, as retail betting fell 73 per cent to 26 million euro and online dropped 43 per cent to 49.3 million euro.

Italian football’s ownership ranks have appealed to the government to lift the prohibition on gambling advertising and sponsorship, even temporarily, to allow them to recoup the losses they’ve suffered from their enforced inactivity.

But these pleas have gone unrewarded, with members of the 5 Star Movement party in particular rejecting out of hand any notion of allowing sports-related gambling promotions now or in the future.

TAB takes coronavirus hammering

Australia’s largest online gambling company, Tabcorp, has taken a battering from the cancellation of major sporting events and the shutdown licenced venues and TAB agencies where many of its client’s punt.

Business News Australia reported last month that new and obscure sport betting options like Belarusian Premier League and Tajikistan men’s basketball have been unable to compensate for loss of revenue that would normally come from the world’s most popular competitions in Australia and around the world.

The state of affairs led to the group temporarily standing down more than 700 employees to 30 June in businesses where there is no work due to coronavirus-related closures.

A further 160 technology contractors have also been let go, representing a cut of 40 per cent.

Business-as-usual expenditure for the current half is expected to be down by a quarter at around $120 million and Tabcorp has expanded its banking facilities through an additional $226 million short-term facility payable in mid-2021.

Managing director and TAB chief executive David Attenborough has also taken a 20 per cent fixed remuneration pay cut until the end of the financial year.

“This continues to be a very challenging time for our people, businesses, partners and the community,” says Mr Attenborough.

“We are committed to working proactively and collaboratively with all our stakeholders so that we can collectively emerge from the coronavirus period as strongly as possible.”

Meanwhile, chairman and non-executive director fees have been reduced by 10 per cent, following on from an earlier 10 per cent cut in September last year.

Tabcorp highlights its lotteries and keno and wagering and media digital channels are operations, as well as its lotteries retail network of newsagents, convenience stores and other outlets.

Thoroughbred, harness and greyhound race meetings in Australia, except Tasmania, continue to run in accordance with strict state government biosecurity and public health restrictions.

Fees owed in April by venues under Sky Racing, Tab, Keno and MAX contracts have been suspended and will be reviewed monthly.

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