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Update on Italy Online Gambling Market

By: Adam Richards, Tuesday August 16th 2011
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Italy had opted for regulated online gambling a few years ago but in a very limited way. The focus had been on online poker tournaments. Then in the middle of July this year operators licensed by the Italian regulatory authority began offering online casino games. A November date has been set for online poker cash games. The one month period since online casino games legally went online in Italy has been enough for the industry to draw some conclusions.

The regulatory authorities in Europe generally are levying a tax on turnover of online gaming. For online casino games the Italy gaming authority, the AAMS, accepted the industry recommendation and agreed to a 20% tax on gross profits. One of the key watch points will be whether this taxation policy brings in the estimated tax revenues. If not, then the AAMS may consider switching to turnover tax. The two other important parameters are an average rate of return of 90% and the maximum initial stake during each gaming session to be limited to €1,000.

The Italian players have taken to the online casino gambling in big numbers. The gaming volumes have been between three times and ten times higher per week than during the previous period. The revised turnover estimates for the Italian online gambling market for 2011 exceed € 10 billion. The estimates for 2012 are at over €20 billion. Two major influences on the Italian online gambling market next year will be the launch of online slots games, which is expected in the first quarter next year, and the entry of a number of major foreign operators who are presently evaluating the scenario.

The TV and online advertising campaigns that were unleashed after the casino games went live have significantly contributed to the high turnover volumes. The online casino operators who have done the hard work of applying for the initial set of licenses are keen on securing market share before the newer applicants enter the field.

Playtech, the leading software developer to the online gaming industry, has emerged as one of the biggest players in the Italian market. It was the first software provider to complete the 'Collaudo' testing process for casino, in compliance with AAMS. A number of Playtech licensees are operating in the Italian online casino market including Sisal, SNAI, Buongiorno and WHO. These online casino operators are offering the complete range of Playtech games and are backed by Playtech's casino management tools. Playtech has been offering online poker tournaments in this market since 2008 with its iPoker poker network and will be offer poker cash games from November 2011.

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