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Italy Readies for Casinos Online

By: Rick Balding, Wednesday February 2nd 2011
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Italy was one of the first mainland European countries to legalize and regulate online gambling. However to start with it did not accept all the online gambling products in the regulated regime. For example, though online poker tournaments were permitted online poker cash games were not. Also online casino gambling remained illegal and this was a major disappointment.

Now there is good news for online players of Italy. True to its promise Italy is all set to add these two important verticals in 2011. Online poker cash games are likely to be launched in March this year and online casino gambling is expected to go live later this summer. Italy is already Europe's largest online gaming market. According to the consultancy firm TrustPartners the launching of cash poker and casino could double the online gambling turnover by 2012. The estimates provided by TrustPartners show an addition in revenue of about €200 million in 2011 and up to €1 billion in 2012 on account of online casino gambling alone. Margins from the launch of poker cash games are projected to be around €400 million in 2011.

In 2010 the total online gambling market in Italy was €4.8 billion, up 28% from the 2009 value of €3.4 billion. 96% of this was contributed by skill games (including tournament poker), sports betting and bingo. In fact the biggest growth component came from online poker tournaments. However this is now stabilizing. Stefano Acciavatti of TrustPartners said, "Even if game accounts and revenues for poker increased in 2010 with respect to 2009, during the last four to five months of last year there were clear signs of stabilization. Game sessions, tournaments and amount of money spent per each game were down in number and volume compared to the comparable period in 2009." According to Acciavatti from this year the Italian market will have the full range of online gambling verticals. This will provide opportunities for cross selling along with the direct impact of the new products. Hence he added, "In 2011, overall turnover might double in value and will further increase in 2012."

Meanwhile online casino software providers are making fresh alignments so as to be in the best strategic position to enter the Italian market when it opens up later this year. Neomobile is applying for the Italian gaming AAMS license for online and mobile casino markets. In the online sector it is being backed by Prima Networks Limited. Prima Networks Limited is powered by Microgaming and will provide Microgaming products in the fields of online casino, poker and bingo to existing and emerging European regulated markets. Neomobile Gaming is the mobile gambling division of the Neomobile Group. It is tying up with Spin3, a partner of Microgaming, to provide mobile casino services in the Italian market.

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