Could Italy be the next mecca for online and land-based casinos?

  • Country’s land-based casinos have experienced a rise in turnover and footfall
  • Sports betting market exceeds $426 million last month; online on the rise too

Italy is famed for many things – beautiful architecture, stunning frescoes, delicious food, fine wine – but gambling? It’s not the first pursuit that springs to mind when you picture the sun-kissed Mediterranean nation of nearly 60 million.

All that could be about to change though, as Italian casinos seek to boost footfall and up their revenue in the process. That could mean reaching out to gamblers who may not have been aware of the European nation’s land-based gambling trade, which has been experiencing mixed fortunes of late.

Italian luxury at its finest at the historic Casino Sanremo
Italian luxury at its finest at the historic Casino Sanremo

Last month, Sanremo Casino and Casino di Campione reported strong figures, although the rival Casino de la Vallee plus a handful of Venice casinos didn’t fare so well. Nevertheless, total turnover for the casinos cited came to $420 million (€394 million) for February, a significant sum by any means.

Online on the rise

It’s not just Italy’s land-based casinos that have been raking it in however; the country’s sports betting market exceeded $426 million (€400 million) last month, spearheaded by the behaviour of football-mad and lottery-loving Italians.

Compared to the same period last year, Italy’s casinos and online sportsbooks have enjoyed 30% greater turnover and are up 7% on January alone. On the web, Lottomatica led the Italian betting market, accounting for almost 11% of all revenue. Of the €432 million wagered on sports betting in February, Bet365 hoovered up over €143 million alone.

Not all online operators enjoyed a bumper month however. Poker revenue for February was down on the previous month for both tournaments and cash games. This slump aside, Italian operators have every reason to feel bullish about their prospects for the year ahead.

BtoBet is the latest company poised to make inroads into the Italian market, as it seeks to set up a licensed sportsbook and gaming platform that can cater to the needs of the country’s sports-crazy punters.

Davide Ruggeri, the firm’s Head of Sportsbook, said: “Nowadays, from a management perspective, Italian operators experience the problem of administering multiple systems that are integrated at the front-end but separate at the back-end.

“This means that operators require a valid omnichannel solution that enables the evolution of physical bet-shops into intelligent shops via a single channel, integrating web and physical stores by giving the opportunity to better understand players,” he added. “This process allows operators to deliver the right product at the ideal time for every single customer. It is the key to standing out, attracting and keeping players loyal to the brand.”

While the arrival of BtoBet will be of interest to Italian bettors, the country’s land-based gambling opportunities are likely to interest British tourists, Scandinavians and visitors from other betting strongholds, who are likely to be wooed by the prospect of combining Italy’s traditional pleasures with the sort that can be enjoyed with the aid of a fat stack of poker chips and a two-pair. Come to Venice for the Bridge of Sighs. Stay for the gaming tables.

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