Overview of the Italian Gambling Industry
Dating back to the days of the Roman Empire, gambling has existed in Italy for thousands of years. Being considered one of the more liberal countries, it is only normal that gambling is still legal, although it was not always so lenient on the subject.
The Agenzia delle Dogan e dei Monopoli (ADM) is the regulatory state authority that revises all forms of gambling in the country. Things started going well for the industry in 2006 when the country introduced legislation permitting a variety of sports betting services to be offered online and in retail locations. The 2007 Finance Act came next, further regulating online gambling to allow for poker tournaments.
In 2009 is when the real change came with the Abruzzo Decree. This was a big step forward, permitting fixed odds games of chance and additional online poker tournaments and ring games. Now, there are over 200 gambling sites available to Italy, 150 of which are online casinos. A more recent legislative measure was introduced in 2019 – the total ban on advertising in all sectors.
Until recently, there were 4 land-based casinos in Italy. In 2018, Casinò di Campione went bankrupt and closed its doors officially in early 2019. The remaining 3 continue fighting against the difficult economic fortunes of the last few years.
From 2017 through 2019, the average amount wagered yearly excluding online gambling is roughly €74.76bn. The average amount won by gamblers per year during the same period is around €57.27bn.
Online gambling brings a smaller revenue to the country as smaller amounts are staked at web-based casinos in Italy. The average amount wagered over the same period of time is €31.62bn per year, while the average amount won by gamblers yearly is around €29.97bn. The average Gross Gaming Revenue for online gambling is around €1.657bn per year, with 2019 being a more prosperous year with a GGR of €1.8bn.
During this period of time, Italy gained a yearly average of €10.7bn from tax revenues derived from gambling-related activities. The highest tax revenue for that period of time was gained in 2019, with a total of €11.4bn.
Italy’s Largest Gambling Operators by Market Share
Italian online gambling revenue has risen by around 25% year-on-year to €537m in the second quarter of 2020. This brings the Italian igaming market to over €1bn in the first half of the year for the first time, all despite the tough year that all sectors of gambling have weathered.
Italy’s Market Sees Increase in Online Gambling in 2020
The Italian igaming market has proven resilient despite the hard times that come with Covid-19. Live sporting games, one of the main contributors to the industry, are absent courtesy of the virus.
At the beginning of March 2020, all sports championships were canceled and sports betting shops were closed. Naturally, the GGR from sports betting declined drastically. This sector generated around 71 million euros in 2020, whereas in 2019, the GGR came to over 106 million euros.
In contrast to that, the online gambling market flourished. The following month, online poker tournaments brought over double the previous years’ GGR of €7.2mn, increasing to over €16mn.In March 2019, online casinos amounted revenues of €72.6mn. This year, online casinos generated a GGR of over €92mn.
Further increases are noted in the following months, as online casino games contributed €70mn in May 2019, while in May 2020, it brought a total of around €105.5mn in GGR.Casino and slot revenue shows a 45.8% increase on a year-to-year basis in April. The revenue figures show that on a month-to-month basis there is a 4.5% rise.
The poker tournament revenue has shown the most drastic increases. With a 135% rise in May, the sector brings over 20 million euros in GGR in contrast to the €16.10m the previous month. Poker cash has also had a rise in revenues, amounting to over 11 million euros as opposed to the 9.9 million euros the month before.
Although sports betting has dropped dramatically recently, it is not completely absent. In April 2020, the revenue came to €20.90mn, under half the amount of the previous month which had already had a drastic fall in February.
The Future in Italy’s Gambling Market
The gambling market in Italy, as in other countries, has taken quite the hit in 2020, with the sports sector being the biggest victim in the industry. To fund the recovery of sports in the country, the Italian government has introduced a 0.5% tax on operators’ turnover from sports betting, including both online and retail wagers.
Italy’s ministry of finance aims to generate €40mn by the end of 2020 and go up to €90mn by the end of 2021. These sums are to be reached through the tax implementation that must be paid on a quarterly basis until December 2021. The idea is to distribute money to address urgent issues in the country’s health care system, to provide support for employers, to help the economy recover the blow following the pandemic, and to assist in the sports activities in the country.
Italian land-based and online sports betting operators find the new tax an even harder blow following the already tough time they were having. Not to mention the advertising ban that was introduced in 2020. Some find the tax inappropriate and unsustainable due to the already-sinking revenues coming in. Moreno Morasco, president of LOGiCO, points out that 1% turnover tax equals 20% gross gaming revenue tax. Adding that to the existing tax of 24% doubles the taxes paid by the gambling industry.