Surge in popularity propels Italy to become the EU’s second largest online casino market

  • Figures released show a marked increase in Italy’s online casino market
  • Italian punters contributed to a 25% increase in spending last year
  • Poker, though, is on the decline with a drop of around 10%

Italy’s growing casino and betting industry has been well documented, and the extent to which the country enjoys a flutter has now been quantified.

Italy online casino
Italy’s casino market: online casinos on the rise, poker facing decline

The latest figures released show a surge in online casino wagering, a swell that has taken the country to second spot in the list of EU nations that are allowed to bet online. Sports betting has long been the favoured kind of betting in a country that idolises football but is also partial to a host of other sports, from rugby to basketball.

Increased spending on online casino games

Thanks to a 25% increase in spending, the revenue taken in for online casino games and sports betting soared past €1 billion for the first time in 2016.

The figures, released by the Online Gaming Observatory show €439 million in casino games revenue, accounting for 43% market share, with another €350 million coming from sports betting, which claimed a 31% market share.

It hasn’t all been good news for the country’s online gambling operators however: poker has been enduring a steady slump, with just €133 million taken in during 2016, a drop of around 10% in the previous year.

It should be noted that Italy is not alone in suffering this gradual decline; many other nations have reported a similar trend, with the halcyon days of online poker believed by many to have occurred between 2007 and 2011. Compare these 2016 numbers with those of 2012, when the game accounted for around half of all online betting revenue.

The remainder of the €1 billion+ revenue taken in by Italian operators in 2016 came from all other forms of online wagering including scratch cards, bingo, horse racing and virtual bingo. Although still a comparatively small sector, with a 20% increase on the previous year it’s one that’s clearly still got some life in it.

Positive signs for the future

Having drawn in over €1 billion in online casino revenue for the first time, Italy is officially the EU’s second largest gambling market after the UK. Given that the UK will shortly be exiting the EU for good, it remains to be seen if there will be any change in the top spot.

Early indications for 2017 are that the Italians’ love of betting are showing no signs of letting up. With 120 new long-distance gaming licenses reportedly in the works, expected to bring in another €24 million, online wagering is likely about to become more ubiquitous for Italians. Among the operators interested in these new licenses, there are believed to be firms interested in rolling eSports out to the Italian market.

Given the younger and hipper demographic eSports tends to be attract, one that does not traditionally bet, it’s easy to see why operators may be keen to introduce eSports betting to the burgeoning Italian market.

OUR VERDICT


Italy has seen a marked growth in its casino industry of late, with these latest figures demonstrating the strength of the market. That being said, the figures from the Online Gaming Observatory are certainly impressive. It’s a site that’s becoming all-too-familiar as our ongoing love affair with tech – read, smartphones, handheld devices etc. – leads us to living more of our lives online. Interestingly, poker has seen a decline in a number of market sectors of late. While this correlates with the general rise in online activity it will be something that land-based casino operators will be watching with interest. We’ve already reported on how casinos are having to do more to attract the next generation of bettors; if traditional games continue to lose their appeal in the bricks an mortar world one wonders what that could result in.

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