Italy’s gambling sector keeps growing, ranking the second largest in Europe. Since the government agreed to fully regulate the market, Italy seems to tease the appetite of more investors, who are currently targeting the country’s enticing market. Even though the country reported a considerable decline in its cash games, it takes steps to revive them, opening even a greater potential for the foreign operators to deploy the market in the most successful way.
Italy’s Arduous Way to Regulated Gambling Market
Attempts to legalize and regulate the gambling sector in Italy started as far back as 2006. The actions were triggered due to the country’s tight restrictions, which prohibited even licensed and reputable European gambling operators to offer online gambling to the Italian nationals, with the exception of the Italian National Olympic Committee and National Horse Breeders Enhancement Society. All other gambling websites were blocked in Italy, so that Italians could not access them. But it appeared that the Italian gambling law violates the European Union standards. In 2009, the European Commission commenced infringement proceedings against Italy and the country’s authorities needed to change the legal framework.
It was 2010, when a new law came into effect, allowing foreign gambling operators to offer real-money games to the Italian residents. Under the new law, operators are required to hold a license issued by the Italian gaming regulator, and more precisely Autonomous Administration of State Monopolies (AAMS). Operators, who expressed willingness to qualify for a license were required to meet certain financial and technical conditions, as well as to introduce player-friendly services, protecting Italian players’ interests.
In 2016 online casinos accounted almost 25% of the country’s total revenue, which is one-fifth more in comparison to the previous year. By the end of 2016, it was reported that 84 foreign operators entered the Italian market and the number steadily keeps on growing. To set apart their gambling offerings, all the operators started to diversify their selection of games and attract the attention of the customers.
Italian Cash Games Collapse
Speaking of gambling, it is impossible to overlook the importance of cash games. In 2012, poker contributed with a fair share to the country’s revenue pie. Only 4 years later, poker experienced a considerable decline. In fact, all cash games reported a 7% drop. Experts pointed out that the 15% decrease in cash game stakes and the rise of the online casinos are to be blamed for the steep downgrade.
Here it is worth to mention that France, Spain and Portugal also reported similar tendency. This led to the so-called online poker liquidity agreement, which was signed by all the 4 countries. In a nutshell, the local players from the 4 different jurisdictions will be able to play against each other, increasing the number of player pools. The entire cross-border process is slated to be finalized by the end of the year or by the beginning of 2018, as all the 4 countries still need to tune their regulations.
Despite the decline of the cash games, Italy still remains a lucrative market. Moreover, once the online poker liquidity process is completed, Italy will become among the “biggest players” on the gambling scene. It is the Europe’s sleeping giant, as it offers great opportunities for the investors, as long as they take an original and interesting approach to the players.