In 2016, Italy generated €1.026bn in online gambling revenues, elevating it to the continent’s second largest market. The result has pushed Italy’s position on the charts ahead of both France and Spain, although it’s trailing closely behind the UK, which is otherwise regarded as the global benchmark for the gaming industry.
Furthermore, Italy’s iGaming market increased by 25% compare to the year prior, with the government subsequently collecting €247m in gambling taxes, a 20% increase compared to the amount in 2015.
The figures clearly show that the Italians like to gamble online, however, two types of games monopolised the punters’ attention in 2016. The Online Gaming Observatory of the Milan Polytechnic University released figures showing that casino games dominated the industry with a 43% share of the market, worth €439m in 2016. Whilst sports betting raked in €350m in revenues, up by 31% in 2015.
In addition, 23% of all gambling activities in 2016 took place via mobile phones, with sports betting accounting for 56% of wagers, and online casinos a further 29%.
In an interview with Totally Gaming, Senior Partner at Ficom Leisure, Christian Tirabassi said: “This growth was achieved on account of the differences in regulating the gambling industry in Italy. The model carried out by the Italian Gaming Authority (ADM) was built through dynamic regulation that progressively strengthened the foundation for the development of the sector through blacklisting and inhibiting 6,000 dot-com websites.
“This act led the leading international suppliers of online gaming software to deny their services to unregulated operators acting on the Italian market. The objective was to make the Italian legal gaming market more competitive and attractive compare to illegal gambling.”
Whilst the online casino and sports betting markets are booming, online poker continues to drag its feet in the mud. In 2016, revenue fell by 10% to €133m which is a world away from a few years ago in 2012, when iPoker accounted for almost half of the online gambling activity taking place in Italy.
Mostly impacting Italy’s poker market in 2016, was a 7% fall in active players and a 15% decline in stakes for the cash game segment, compared to a stakes fall of just 1.5% for tournaments, and 2% fewer players.
However, the future doesn’t look too bleak for the country’s iPoker market. The market is expected to see some positive movement if the shared liquidity compact ever gets off the ground between Italy and a number of other EU regulated countries.
In addition, 2017 is expected to up the ante with the 84 Italian online gambling license already issued expected to rise above 200 licenses this year.
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