Since the Italian government’s decision to fully legalize gambling, there has been a growing appetite for wagering among Italians; helped largely by an increasing choice of games and improved safety regulations for online gambling.
Since March 2010, gambling operators from overseas have been able to offer real-money games to Italian citizens, providing they obtain a license from the Autonomous Administration of State Monopolies (AAMS). In order to qualify for an AAMS license, operators must be able to prove they have turned over revenue of more than €1.5m in Europe in the last two years, whilst being able to offer a stable, secure and easy-to-use service for Italian players.
At present, much of the $113 million gambling revenue is derived from lottery games, which remain the nation’s favourite way to gamble, followed by slot machines and classic casino table games. There is no doubt that the lottery has long been the biggest gambling attraction for Italians, due largely to its exceptionally high prize pools.
The SuperEnalotto is held three times each week, with the biggest winning jackpot to date totalling an eye-watering $213.2 million, won by a syndicate of 70 players. The biggest single player win totalled $205m back in 2009 following many weeks of rollovers. Its popularity is also partly due to the odds of winning the SuperEnalotto being one of the lowest out of all the lotteries held worldwide. Winnings are not taxed either and winners get the luxury of choosing either a lump-sum jackpot or annuity payments.
There is certainly an untapped market for poker in Italy, with a pool of players making the country ripe for investment here. The country has long-mooted plans to create a new online poker network with neighbouring Spain, France and Portugal, in a bid to create larger competitions with more exciting prize pools.
With competition fierce among the online poker networks, operators are having to entice new players by being creative with their gameplay, including new poker variants. 888poker is the latest site to introduce a new variant poker game, Flopomania. It’s the first network to remove all pre-flop betting action, with games available for just pennies to buy in, allowing newbies to build a poker bankroll at their pace. In order to draw in more poker players, the site also offers many types of payment methods, from traditional VISA and Mastercard to virtual payments made with Skrill or PayPal.
There is no doubt that iGaming brands should look to Italy as a market of genuine potential. Despite figures reported by Bloomberg indicating a 7% decline in disposable income among Italians, there remains an ever-growing interest in the gambling sector. This, combined with a steadily recovering Italian economy and solid regulations on operators and players, makes this market ripe for venture capitalists in the coming years.
Historically, when economic fortunes wane, the nation’s interest in gambling follows suit. Yet with Italy somewhat bucking the trend it certainly makes a strong case for its own gambling industry that’s sustainable and capable of further expansion.