San Marino is one of the smallest and oldest sovereign states in Europe. Today gambling business is allowed in the country. It is regulated by two laws – No. 67/2000 and No. 143/2006. According to these laws, almost all types of gambling are allowed on the territory of the country, including online. Since 2007, the Ente di Stato dei Giochi (or ESG) has been operating in the Republic of San Marino, which controls and authorizes gambling in the country. ESG operates under the direction of the Grand General Council and the State Congress.
For the first time, the gambling business in San Marino was legalized in 1880 in order to generate additional income to pay off public debt. Casino activities were considered legal until 1949. However, after that, the government announced a ban on any gambling in the country. The ban was lifted in 2007. It was in this year that Giochi del Titano S.P.A. was founded. The company is controlled by ESG, and the majority of its shares are owned by the state.
Giochi del Titano provides gambling and betting in San Marino. She manages the Bingo Keno halls, slot machines and a poker room in Rovereto. In 2017, a casino with the name of the company was opened. Today it is the only land-based casino in the state. It is also located in Rovereto. Its visitors are not only locals, but also a huge number of foreigners. According to statistics, in 2015 alone, about 164 thousand players visited the casino. The income amounted to about EUR 16.45 million.
As for online gambling, in the country it is allowed and regulated at the legislative level. Currently, no operator is licensed to operate an online casino in San Marino. But, since the gambling law and the amendment to it signed in 2014 do not say anything about the responsibility of the players, they can freely visit the websites of foreign operators.
San Marino Gambling Laws
Currently, only two laws regulate the gambling business in San Marino, these are:
- No. 67/2000;
- No. 143/2006.
The gambling legislation passed in 2000 provides the legal basis for the control, supervision and taxation of the gambling industry, as well as for the licensing of operators. And Law No. 143/2006 defines the body that is responsible for the control and regulation of the gambling industry in the country, as well as establishes its responsibilities.
According to the laws, the following types of gambling are allowed on the territory of the state:
- prize drawings;
- games for luck;
- games of skill.
The state legal system defines a number of social responsibility measures for licensed casino premises. Access to such establishments is allowed only to registered players who have reached the age of 18, after providing identity documents. In accordance with the AML rules, all players who have won more than 2 thousand EUR or made a bet for such an amount must be identified and registered.
Gambling industry regulators
According to law no. 143/2006, the regulator of the gambling activity in San Marino is the ESG. It operates under the supervision and control of the Grand General Council and the State Congress. The responsibilities of the regulator are as follows:
- the implementation of exclusive games, prize draws, lotteries, bingo games, games of luck, games of skill and betting, in accordance with law no. 67/2000;
- control and supervision over the conduct of gambling activities in accordance with Law No. 67/2000;
- preparation of draft laws and regulations concerning the implementation of games;
- adoption of measures, initiatives aimed at safe and transparent game management, as well as prevention of socially harmful consequences of the game.
The implementation of the gambling mentioned in the first paragraph is possible through the conclusion of contracts with private companies. But in any case ESG reserves the right to organize games:
- approval of the rules for each game;
- determination and regulation of the technical parameters of the equipment and computers for the games. This is necessary in order to confirm that, even with real-time control, the technical operating conditions of each game are strictly adhered to in terms of the player’s chances of winning or losing;
- approval of proposals for the installation of equipment and computers designed for advanced games from the owner of the contract.
ESG signs contracts after approval by the State Congress, which is responsible for verifying the compatibility of the initiative with the economic and social interests of the state.
Conditions for obtaining a license in the gambling jurisdiction of San Marino
A person who intends to organize and conduct (even once) an exclusive game, prize drawing, lottery, lotto, game of luck, game of skill or betting must submit a request to the Committee for Control and Supervision (Comitato di Controllo e Vigilanza).
The request must necessarily contain:
- an indication of the basic data on the persons in charge who intend to organize and run the business;
- a brief report on the reasons for organizing one of the types of gambling activities;
- the order and duration of the drawing;
- regulation of activities and method of drawing;
- precise indication of the prize, prize or prize;
- the applicant’s obligation to pay taxes.
The decision to issue a permit is made within 30 days from the date of the request.
The State Congress may grant the right to organize and conduct gambling to individuals or legal entities. These include:
- limited liability companies;
- joint stock companies.
Legal entities must have fully paid social capital of at least GBP 500 million or EUR 258,228. This amount can be changed at the suggestion of the Committee.
The license to operate a gambling business is valid for no more than 5 years. The act issued by the Committee for Control and Supervision on a mandatory basis must contain the following elements:
- validity period of the license;
- subject of licensing with the establishment of sectors of intervention and activity
- object of the license;
- the amount of taxes and fees at the expense of the treasury;
- provision of a bank guarantee for timely fulfillment of tax obligations by the licensee and regular payment of winnings;
- the obligation of the licensee to provide the regulatory authorities with any information, news, documents related to the activities of the permit object and income, as well as any other relevant information for the assessment and control of activities in accordance with the license.
All operators who are authorized to provide gambling are required to pay income tax of 12%. Payment of taxes must be made within sixty days after the completion of each game.
Online gambling in San Marino
Online gambling is allowed in San Marino. However, the government does not issue licenses to online casino operators. Accordingly, there are no virtual casinos in the country. However, local players are free to visit the websites of foreign operators. This is not prohibited by law. Today, about 200 online casinos with an English or Italian interface are ready to accept players from San Marino.
The most popular slot machines in San Marino
Players from San Marino prefer slot machines, poker, roulette and various card games. There is no information about the specific slots in greatest demand. Visiting foreign online casinos, residents of the state play slot machines that are legendary in their own way. These include models from Greentube, Aristocrat, IGT, WMS and others, for example:
- Book of Ra;
San Marino does not have its own gambling software developers.
Prospects for the development of gambling business in San Marino
The gambling business in San Marino is legal and brings quite good revenues to the state budget – about 16 million EUR per year. And this is despite the fact that there is only one gambling company operating in the country. As for online gambling, the situation is quite complicated. In theory, online gambling is allowed here, but not a single operator has yet received a license from the government. So local players have to go to the sites of foreign operators to play. Perhaps, the authorities will soon reconsider their views on the online gambling market and start issuing licenses.