Italy has entered a new national lockdown because of the rising cases of COVID-19. This means that all arcades, betting shops, and bingo halls across the country will have to close down again due to the current measures to prevent the rise in COVID-19 cases. The Italian Prime Minister, Guiseppe Conte, signed an emergency decree to enforce a national lockdown. The move has led to the closure of most businesses in the country.
Why Shut Down Casinos in Italy?
As it sanctioned a series of lockdown orders, the Italian government claimed that the sharp increase in new COVID-19 cases was the leading cause of these measures. By October 21st, the cases had reached a daily figure of 25,000, with an additional 1,500 new patients getting treatment in Intensive Care Units. There were also 205 deaths reported on the same day bringing the total number of fatalities to 37,905. The UK is the only country that recorded more casualties in Europe. However, these measures seem to have enraged most of the Italians despite the rising number of infections. Demonstrations across the country had to be stopped by the police.
The new measures mean that Italian restaurants and bars are expected to close at 6 PM every weekday. On Sundays, it is a full closure with citizens ordered against traveling outside of their local municipalities. On the other hand, bingo games halls, arcades, and betting shops have been branded as non-essential businesses and ordered to close down until November 24th. Theatres, cinemas, pools, gyms, and concert halls were also ordered to shut down.
Italians Protest Against the New Lockdown Measures
Italian police had a hard time dispersing crowds of demonstrators in the country following the new lockdown measures’ announcement. In Rome’s central Piazza del Popolo, there were reports of clashes between police and some neo-fascist political party members, Forza Nuova. The northern cities of Turin and Milan also recorded unrest scenes due to the announcement of the new lockdown measures. There was a smashing of windows and looting of stock in Turin while Milan was characterized by throwing stones, fireworks, and petrol bombs.
Quick Response from the Gambling Industry
As expected, these measures are likely to harm the gambling industry. The industry responded to these new regulations by expressing their disappointment. According to reports, gambling operators in the country have already lost 1.8 billion EUR due to the pandemic and its related closures. The industry is also expected to lose another 700 million Euros by the end of November. However, it remains hopeful that the casinos will reopen by November 24th. For now, it will have to contend with the measures and find means of surviving until the government decides otherwise.
What Does It Mean to the Italian Casino Players?
Besides the online casino gambling industry facing the possibility of recording massive losses, the players will also have a hard time finding alternatives to play their favorite casino games. This means that most of them will be pushed towards the grey and black markets. As reported by the Financial Times in June, Forza Italia politician, Andrea Ruggeri, argued that these measures are likely to push locals towards illegal gambling. Therefore, the Italian government needs to find other ways of ensuring the casinos continue operating while observing safety measures that will prevent the spread of COVID-19. This is because the gambling industry has a big market in Italy and the rest of the world. If appropriately managed during this pandemic period, it could be not only lucrative but also an additional revenue source for the countries involved.
Is There Still Hope for the Italian Gambling Industry?
According to the Italian Prime Minister, Guiseppe Conte, the country should expect to suffer in November if the citizens abide by the current restrictions, and it may be able to relax in December. However, he claimed that he could not promise that the country will return to normalcy by the end of the year. This is because the restrictions were only aimed at ensuring that the infection curve is kept under control. If not, the restrictions may have to be extended further into the new year.
This is a wake-up call for the gambling industry in Italy. The industry needs to find other ways of staying in business if such lockdowns are imposed in the future. One way of doing this is to partner with other industries or embrace the online market. In particular, the online market can bring in a lot of revenue to help the industry stay relevant during such periods. This is because most casino players also prefer playing their favorite casino real money games online with the fear of going to social places, putting them at the risk of contracting the virus.