That void of rules that puts exports in Italy at risk

That void of rules that puts exports in Italy at risk

The seizures in some Lan halls dedicated to esports by the Customs and Monopolies Agency (ADM) put an entire market at risk only because of interpretations of the current legislation that do not take into account the peculiarities of a decidedly new sector.

Friday 29 April 2022 Adm has seized PCs and game simulators located in some Lan rooms dedicated to esports, contesting the violation of the legislation on amusement machines without winnings. This is a regulation that applies to traditional games that we find in an arcade such as pinball, billiards, table football, bulldozers and videogames based solely on skill for which the duration of the game can last depending on the skill of the player. player. These games are designed to be used in arcades and in fact there is a specific discipline for their import, distribution and operation in arcades, with also an authorization regime and taxes to be paid.

Completely different is the scenario in which there are game consoles or simulators, such as those that any person could buy to play at home, installed in a room where customers can participate in esports competitions by connecting with a personal account via the internet to different platforms. In this case, the games are not "hall", but the store manager provides workstations, such as those that may also be available in any Internet café, to be able to play. The reason why players go to the Lan rooms is simply because the room has more powerful computers and gaming accessories that some players may not have or also for the social, community aspect due to the presence of other players.

Aspects that would not seem to have been considered on the occasion of the seizure of all the computers present in some Lan rooms, even those that were simply shown for sale complete with a plate showing the price.

On the basis of a press release dated May 2, Adm stated that it had simply applied the current legislation. However, the issue risks becoming yet another Italian-style error in which the authorities fail to understand a new phenomenon and therefore adopt the most stringent and obviously more "convenient" interpretative solution, prohibiting the phenomenon, pending any clarifications from part of the legislator. It is also a dispute brought forward by a lobby because it would seem that Adm's intervention is the result of a complaint filed with Adm by some casino operators who complained about "unfair competition" by Lan rooms.

The Adm press release does not provide clarification on the legal reasoning that was followed. It is not clear, among others, why it is not taken into account that:

the games and gaming platforms made available in the Lan rooms are the same marketed to the public both online and through shops, and the Lan rooms they provide a mere "interface" through which it is possible to connect to these platforms. The room manager does not have control over the game (and therefore could not authorize it) because he is not the supplier of the game, unlike a traditional arcade video game; the games made available in the Lan rooms are the same that a player could buy independently and use at home. Therefore, if the legislator considers that the existing controls for the commercialization of these games to the public are sufficient, it is not clear why the same should not apply when these games are made available in Lan rooms; the assimilation of esports to simple arcade video games means completely ignoring the competitive aspect of the same which was recently recognized by the same Coni which started in May 2020 a process for the recognition of esports as a sport, even if the correct qualification in my opinion, it would be a mere entertainment activity subject in the case of offering to non-professional players to consumer protection legislation and in any case governed by the legislation applicable to any software; the aspect relating to unfair competition is completely unfounded because certainly the Lan rooms operate in accordance with the principles of professional correctness and do not have the intention of damaging the gaming rooms with respect to which they do not feel in competition, also because the type of players is entirely different. In any case, the conduct cannot be "unfair" if it occurs in compliance with the regulatory framework; and the extension of the licensing regime for non-cash amusement machines to esports equipment installed in Lan lounges would introduce an authorization regime that is unprecedented in any other jurisdiction worldwide. DLA Piper performed a study on applicable legislation to esports in 45 jurisdictions worldwide in its “eSports Laws of the World“ report. The report confirms the absence of an authorization or even certification regime applicable to esports in other jurisdictions.

France has an ad hoc regulation for physical esports tournaments according to which the total amount of the registration fees or the financial contribution due by the participant must not exceed 100% of the total cost of organizing the event, including the total amount of earnings or prizes offered. However, only a mere notification of esports tournaments to the competent authorities was envisaged, without any form of prior authorization or certification.

A consultation by Adm with the managers of the Lan rooms would have been desirable to better understand the phenomenon of esports before a sanctioning intervention. Reading the minutes of the kidnappings it is clear that the ADM officials did not have all the elements to make a complete assessment.

The esports market is growing 50% year on year with a value that has already reached $ 1 billion globally, not counting all aspects of entertainment and services (and jobs) that they are connected to the same. In order to grow, it is a phenomenon that needs deregulation and therefore clear indications about the inapplicability to the same of other disciplines born for completely different contexts, only in this way can we attract investments.

We hope that this error interpretative of the legislation does not translate into yet another "Italian disaster". The kidnappings caused a lot of media noise, including political interventions. The hope is that the Adm will lift the kidnappings, open a discussion table with the various parties involved and find a solution that takes into account the particularities of the esports sector.

Powered by Blogger.