In recent weeks, some LAN rooms dedicated to esports have found themselves at the center of a bureaucratic misadventure that has led to administrative seizure of three different activities. The so-called LANgate has raised attention to administrative ambiguities that could cost many, very many Italian companies dearly, from IT bars to electronics megastores, passing through trade fairs and events. Between taxation, politics and law, there is a need to re-discuss new rules. We talked about it with Alessio Cicolariowner of the eSport Palace, today under seals.
Like the eSport Palace, many others too
In the space of a week since the police closed the PC Teklab in Melzo, the eSport Palace in Bergamo and the Playground in Rome, thirteen owners of LAN rooms and the like gathered in a representative body that aims to give voice to needs of the sector. Specifically, the newborn group is committed to forming a discussion table with the ADM (Agenzia delle Excise, Dogane and Monopoli), the associations of video game developers, federations and CONI. The purpose? Raise awareness that places dedicated to eSports are not to be considered amusement arcades.
The whole affair in fact began with a complaint signed by Sergio Milesi, owner of the Joyvillage chain who, believing that the distance between digital sport and recreational entertainment was short, complained to the competent bodies that his competitors did not respect those rules and those burdens that are imposed on him. The law is effectively on the side of the latter: according to the documents produced by ADM, the law does not recognize the distinction between the two realitiestherefore the sector navigates in unbridled unauthorized activity.
The seal affixed to the door of eSport Palace.
A deep and complex misunderstanding
“They are completely different activities”, objected Alessio Cicolari. “They are homologous perhaps as imaginary, but for the activities carried out we are closer to a sports center than a game room. We offer the structure in which the user enters and can go to the bar, go to the restaurant, can play soccer, can play tennis “.
Formally, there is no legal-fiscal definition that supervises this kind of activity, each merchant frames his business in a different way and arranges himself as he can. Exemplary in this sense is the example of the WeArena of Gorizia, the only one of the realities controlled by the police that has managed to produce such solid documentation as to safeguard itself from administrative seizure.
“[WeArena] was opened like theme park and let’s say that for that type of activity they do not have to regulate the equipment as dictated by the TULPS ”, Cicolari revealed to us. “The fact is that we cannot consider that a LAN room, instead at present it is a theme park like Gardaland”. At the same time it should be emphasized that the situation of Gorizia’s business is more unique than rare, especially in terms of size, and that bureaucratic misunderstandings extend well beyond the single category.
The risks go beyond the industry
The seizure of the eSports halls has revealed several problems. In its investigation, ADM combined the activities under analysis with the arcades, citing the fact that both make use of “entertainment devices”. This definition is extremely broad, since it includes any “mechanical or electromechanical tool, for which access to the game is regulated without introducing money, but with use for a time or for a purpose”.
Hence the fear that all the “trial” stations in shopping malls, electronics megastores, video game stores and trade fairs emerge. must comply with the law discussed. Some exhibitors have begun to turn off the screens as a precaution, waiting for a clarification of the situation, while others are bombarding Cicolari and colleagues with calls to ask them for suggestions and explanations. For better or for worse, the episode involving the LAN rooms highlighted how the bureaucratic system is not up to date, with knock-on effects on the existence of these associative activities, despite the fact that they are promoted by the drive towards digitization.