OCSI 2024: Networking and Innovation Take Centre Stage

Alisa Barladyan
08 May 2024

The 2nd Annual Online Casino Summit Italia (OCSI 2024) provided crucial insights into the country's dynamic iGaming market. With a strong focus on compliance, innovation, and strategic collaboration, the event highlighted the challenges and opportunities facing operators in light of the new Italian licensing regime and tender.

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2nd Annual Online Casino Summit Italia

OCSI 2024 crackled with a unique energy on the first day in Rome as top decision-makers and thought leaders converged to form a vibrant community, ready to delve into the latest developments in the Italian industry. The intimate setting fostered a dynamic atmosphere for networking, facilitating real business connections. Alessandro Allara, Chairperson of OCSI 2024, expertly summarised the day's key takeaways in his closing remarks:

Alessandro Allara, Author and Managing Partner, Grinder Ideas Production Entertainment
Very interesting and deep conversation within all the panels. Two topics have dominated the day: the first topic is, of course, the new regulation and how the market is going to evolve. Meaning the number of operators is going to drop and for that reason, the weight, the market share will probably change. Who is going to take the majority of this portion of the market, will probably be driven by the product, those who will be good in product, those who will be good in innovation. We talk mostly about social, mobile, and responsible gambling. In general, customer service. So, the reputation of the brands. The second argument that dominated the day was the advertising ban and all the implications that the advertising ban has driven into the market, in particular the huge spike in affiliate acquisition and the weight that the affiliates have in Italy compared to other geographies, how the operators can face this growing power of the affiliate within the acquisition strategy and also what we expect from the new regulation. Probably a change in what is legal and what is not legal. In particular, we know that responsible gambling and communication would be possible and, of course, we need to understand what does “possible” mean. This is also an important element considering that some foreign operators are looking at the italian market but with the current scenario, they are probably not interested in coming into the market because there are no opportunities of acquiring customers, while with the new rules, of course communicated in time before the new tender, probably there is space for new operators. This is also an opportunity for the regulator to open the market to groups that have the equity and capabilities to enter this mature market.

Quirino Mancini (IMGL, Tonucci & Partners) opened the second day with a bold call for a "2.0 approach" to collaboration within Italy's iGaming industry. This emphasis on unity between operators, regulators, lawmakers, and the public comes at a pivotal moment, as the new licensing tender creates both challenges and opportunities for local and global operators. Mancini believes that collaboration is essential to overcome negative public perceptions and to navigate the complexities of the new regulatory landscape, paving the way for a more sustainable and successful iGaming sector in Italy.

This theme was echoed by Capt. Giacomo Spinelli of INTERPOL, who showcased a united law enforcement front dedicated to a safe and legal iGaming environment. Moving beyond the narrower focus of individual agencies, Capt. Spinelli highlighted the holistic approach now implemented by Italian authorities, including Operation COPREGI, in combating criminal activities like money laundering, match-fixing, and illegal operations.

Implications for the Italian iGaming Market

  • Increased Scrutiny: Operators must be acutely aware of the heightened regulatory oversight and multi-agency collaboration.
  • Opportunities for Reputable Operators: The focus on eliminating criminal activity can open doors to ethical operators, especially those ready with innovative products and a strong commitment to player protection.

Stefano Sbordoni (Sbordoni & Partners) highlighted the growing role of AI in the iGaming industry, particularly in sports betting. Sbordoni outlined the potential sanctions outlined in the proposed AI Act: “AI in sports betting relies heavily on advanced predictive models. These models use sophisticated algorithms to analyse complex data and predict match outcomes. The AI Act provides for a system of sanctions in case of violation of the provisions established." Emphasising the importance of compliance for operators utilising these technologies.

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Daniele Tagliarini (DTC Advisory), addressed the challenges and opportunities related to payments in the Italian iGaming sector. The upcoming regulatory reform, with its potential restrictions on cash transactions, was a key focus. Despite this, Tagliarini asserted, "Customers will still be able to move cash via the PVR channel," highlighting alternative traceable payment solutions that ensure regulatory compliance.

Daniele Tagliarini, Managing Partner, DTC Advisory on Navigating Gaming Commerce: PVRs (Punti Vendita Ricarica), cash, technology and regulation
The upcoming gambling regulatory reform will impose rules that pose limits on how to manage cash. It seems it will not be possible to deposit/withdraw cash to/from an online gaming account if not respecting very low amount limits and using traceable means. But, payment services are regulated by the European Payment Services Directive and payment services providers are supervised by National Banks the Bank of Italy in our case), not ADM (the Italian gaming regulator) This means that payment services providers are in a position to serve gaming customers. Customers can use E-Wallets and other traceable means of payment that guarantee 100% compliance. As long as a payment transaction is segregated from gaming activities, the rules the gaming regulator is likely to impose will be respected. Therefore, customers will still be able to move cash via the PVR channel.
  • AI presents exciting possibilities for sports betting operators but understanding the regulatory implications is crucial.
  • Operators must adopt traceable payment solutions to remain compliant in the face of potential cash restrictions.
  • The Italian iGaming landscape is ripe for disruption, with innovation and customer focus poised to be key drivers of success for operators.
Andrea Bellezza, Head of Business Unit, GiG Media
The event was a good opportunity to meet and share knowledge with industry experts. It was valuable for both companies and individuals already in the Italian market, and for those interested in entering it for the first time, as great insights on regulations and future of the market were discussed and analysed.

OCSI 2024 went beyond insightful sessions, with expert speakers and top industry voices contributing to the high-quality summit. The event fostered a uniquely intimate atmosphere ideal for forging meaningful connections within the Italian gaming market. The well-balanced combination of targeted content and ample social opportunities made it perfect for deepening existing relationships and building new partnerships. This collaborative atmosphere is what sets OCSI apart, making it a vital platform for knowledge exchange and navigating the complexities of this ever-evolving market.

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