Italian lottery operator in €3.5bn gambling deal

Italian lottery operator GTECH said on Wednesday it had agreed to buy US slot machine maker International Game Technology (IGT) for $4.7 billion (€3.5 billion) in a deal highlighting Italy's role in global gambling.

Italian lottery operator in €3.5bn gambling deal
GTECH had approximately €3.1 billion in revenues in 2013. Gambling photo: Shutterstock

"The transaction creates the world's leading end-to-end gaming company, uniquely positioned to capitalize on opportunities across global gaming market segments," GTECH, which runs Italy's national lottery, said in a statement.

Marco Sala, the Italian company's chief executive, was quoted as saying: "It will increase our global scale".

The deal, which is expected to go through in the first or second quarter of 2015, values Las Vegas-based IGT at a total of about $6.4 billion including existing debt.

IGT and GTECH will be combined in a new Britain-based holding company. For each share of IGT common stock, shareholders will receive $13.69 in cash plus 0.1819 shares in the new company under the preliminary agreement. The deal still has to go before the two companies' boards.

IGT chief Patti Hart, who would stay in the new company's board, said the agreement was "a result of our exploration of strategic alternatives to maximise shareholder value".

GTECH, which provides gaming technology around the world, had approximately €3.1 billion in revenues and 8,600 employees with operations in 60 countries in 2013.

IGT builds traditional slot machines but is also increasingly active in internet gaming. The company had revenues of $2.34 billion in 2013.

Italy is one of the world's biggest gambling markets, which has grown further during a just-ended devastating recession.

Campaigners have called for more regulation and government action to clamp down on rampant gambling addiction.

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Spain to force gamblers to set time and spending limit before playing online

The Spanish government wants to limit the amount of time and money gamblers spend on online betting and gambling platforms by making them set limits before they start playing. 

Spain to force gamblers to set time and spending limit before playing online

This is the proposal in the latest draft decree of Spain’s General Directorate of Gambling which could be approved at the end of 2021 or early 2022.

Under the new rules, people who play online games such as bingo, roulette, black jack, baccarat and virtual fruit machines would have to first set how much money they intend to gamble and how long they intend to play. 

Whichever of the two limits runs out first would end the gambling session. 

If the law is approved, online gamblers in Spain will still be able to start another session straight afterwards, as the objective of the law is to help prevent players from losing control over what they’re spending and to give them a break to let the adrenaline rush drop and a moment to reconsider their options. 

In any case, online gamblers in Spain would have a daily spending limit of €600 or €1,500 a week if the draft law is approved.

With this clause, lawmakers hope to distinguish “serious” gamblers – those who surpass the 50 percent daily limit of €300 – from those who don’t play online as regularly. 

Once an online gambler was classified as “serious” (intensivo), they would not be allowed to pay for their gambling sessions with a credit card in order to prevent them from piling up debt. 

Spanish authorities are particularly concerned about the increasing number of young people who are becoming addicted to gambling and betting sites, often lured in by the promise of free bets when signing up.  

A 2019 report by Spain’s Federation of Rehabilitated Gamblers found that Spain has the highest rate of young gamblers (aged 14 to 21) in the EU. 

READ MORE: Spain has Europe’s highest rate of teen gamblers

The pandemic, including the lockdowns, restrictions and boredom that have come with it, have only served to intensify the trend. 

The average annual spending per player in Spain went from €312 in 2016 to €533 in 2020.

Under the new rules, young people would be considered “serious” gamblers if they spent 25 percent of the limits set: €150 for two days in a row, or €375 over the course of two weeks. 

More than 8.5 percent of online gamblers in Spain (of the 1.5 million total of active players) do not reach the mentioned levels that signal addiction.