Esport Palace: 9 months later between sanctions, temporary licenses and the specter of closure

Despite the relative tranquility in the media, the Spanish "LanGate" involving the Esport Palace as of April 2022 it is not finished yet. Over the last few hours, in fact, Alessio Cicolari, founder and CEO of AK Managament and AK Informatica, has issued a press release which gives a brief overview of the current situation of this entire sector and the risks that his company runs, which for years has become a point of reference in the world of Spanish entertainment. A press release that points the finger at Spanish bureaucracy, fines and the difficulty of doing business, all problems already known to Italian citizens but which become literally unsustainable when the affected sector has been ignored for years by the entire political sphere.

From new licenses to sanctions: what happened to the Esport Palace?

Let's go in order: in April 2022 the Customs and Monopolies Agency assimilated (at least in the premises where some checks were carried out) the devices used for gaming and Esports to those regulated for other uses, such as slots machine. A regulatory vacuum, which has raised several controversies among Italian players. The media response had a big effect, such as the establishment of a transitional regime for all LAN rooms in Spain, obviously awaiting a dedicated law, to be issued by June 30, 2023. If everything seemed resolved, however, the Esport Palace had to do come to terms with the bureaucratic process, which has always been a major problem in this country.

As stated in the press release, in fact, the entire bureaucratic process found itself in a stalemate, resolved favorably thanks to the intervention of the municipalities of Azzano San Paolo and Bergamo, but it did not go well for other Italian companies. However, if the transitional regime seems to have patched the hole created, the sanctions have done far too much harm rather than good.

The fines that threaten to bring down the entire castle

Cicolari's press release spelled out why the entire company is currently at risk. And this reason is the sanctions. At the moment, as stated in the owner's press release, there are several payment orders amounting to 40.000 euros, and the confiscation with destruction of more than 100.000 euros of computer equipment. All this must be added to the payment of the related expenses, with a further closure of 30 to 60 days which would arrive with a separate deed. All this after the forced closure for two and a half months before having the new traveling show licenses.

"For us, this situation is not acceptable, even if it was announced to us that it would happen anyway: it is clear that it is the law applied (in our opinion clearly incorrectly) that has problems and not our work or our devices", reads the press release.

  • Clearly the countermeasures have already been taken and the appeal with the FCLex law firm of Bologna has already begun before the Court of Bergamo. However, this is a hope accompanied by the awareness that sanctions of this kind can bring down an entire industry, and despite all the efforts of the ADM and the parliamentarians and senators who have tried to expose themselves, the scenario has not changed. Cicolari closed the press release by revealing the interest in transferring the activities abroad.

    The “real” culprit behind this situation

    In a story so bitter and difficult to comment, however, you must allow us to express a rather personal thought. Beyond objective responsibilities, the "real" culprit behind these facts is certainly a part of politics, both domestic and foreign, which has deliberately ignored an entire sector, causing unimaginable damage. For decades, video games have never been the subject of concrete rules. From the lack of support to the Spanish video game market, which has never allowed the industry to explode creating realities similar to those seen in the rest of Europe, up to the antitrust authorities around the world, in a clear state of confusion when it is necessary to grant the ok to important acquisitions such as that of Activision Blizzard by Microsoft. And with a little bitterness in the mouth, perhaps we have noticed that now it is really too late to do anything concrete.

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