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As operators lost their appeal against restrictions introduced to fight the Covid-19 pandemic, all casinos, betting shops, gaming arcades and bingo halls in Italy must stay closed until March 5.

Even after appeals by gaming firms all over Italy against the steps introduced by the Council of Ministers and the Customs and Monopoly Agency, the administrative court in Lazio took the decision.

The new Covid-19 prevention decree in Italy is due to expire on March 5, but some gaming operators believe they may be forced to stay closed for much longer. Some complain that they are singling out the gaming industry.

Iari Fondi, owner of a gaming company in Altopascio, Lucca province, wrote to the Corriere Fiorentino newspaper: “Behind the prolonged closure of gaming companies there is a precise political will, hidden by the health emergency, that is using the devastating effects of Covid-19 to bring the legal and public gaming industry to its knees.”

He continued: “My venue is 300 square meters and complies with all the requirements, where is the risk of contagion compared to a supermarket? . . . We have equipped ourselves as requested: machines reduced for distancing, sanitation, plexiglass barriers and alternating staff.

“If on March 5 we don’t start again, I don’t know what will happen.”

The court will hear the operators’ appeal on February 10.