In 2021, iGaming is one of the most lucrative segments of the global digital gaming industry. Online real money gaming is immensely popular with adult gamers across the UK, western Europe, Asia, and increasingly more US states, however, here in Italy, it has been a recognised market since the late 2000s.
Card and casino gaming have been a popular pastime in Italy for centuries and there are numerous land-based establishments found across the country, from lavish historical venues like the Casino di Venezia to more modern resorts. It’s only natural, then, that online versions of these games would rank highly as a form of at-home entertainment with Italian residents.
In this article, we’ll be diving into Italy’s history with online real money gaming, gaming laws and legislation, and the type of games that are popular across the country.
Pioneering the Online Gaming Scene
Incredibly, for an industry that is close to achieving over $120 billion in annual revenues, iGaming is still a relatively young industry, having only really gained global popularity during the last decade.
Back in 2006, Italy played a key role in pioneering this burgeoning new market, as the practice of real money gaming took off across the country. During those early days, it was still an underground segment but it didn’t take long for the Italian government to launch a decree that would fully legalise online poker, casino, and sports betting practices – the 2009 Abrizo Decree.
Then, in 2011, Italy welcomed foreign operators into the mix by opening the door to global gaming brands that were willing to comply with both taxation laws and stringent regulations that keep gamers safe and secure online.
Online Gaming Legislation in Italy
Like land-based casinos in the country, Italian online poker, casino, and sports betting platforms are regulated by the Italian Excise, Customs and Monopolies Agency (ADM). All legal casinos have to register with the agency and be granted a certification to operate, and in order to receive this certification, they have to adhere to strict controls and make a substantial financial investment.
Some of the key requirements for Italian-based operators looking to enter the market include:
The technical capacity to offer games that are authorised in the country
The minimum share capital of €1,500,000
Servers that are either located in Italy or in the territory of a current European State.
Rather uniquely when compared to how other countries regulate their online real money gaming markets, Italy has also prohibited operators from advertising games with cash prizes on national TV and radio between 7 am and 10 pm – with the exception of specialised media that has been approved by the Minister for the Economy and the Minister for Economic Development.
Italy’s iGaming Market in 2021
As mentioned previously, at present the iGaming market in Italy contains both local operators and international operators. Moving into January 2021, the market was reported to be worth a total of €103.6 million, with year-on-year growth shooting up to 57.5%.
According to the European Gaming magazine, the gaming brand with the largest share of the Italian market is PokerStars Casino, with 11.46%. This international gaming company launched its comprehensive online casino platform in Italy in May 2015 and is now the number one choice with Italian gamers.
Meanwhile, Italian brands including the national lottery only have a combined market share of 16.99% between them.
So, what kind of iGaming activities can residents play online in Italy? Well, the choice of games and variants open to Italians is pretty broad and includes:
Slots, including jackpot slots
Poker tournaments and online cash games
Casino table games, including roulette (French and European rules), craps, and blackjack
Live dealer casino games
Sports betting on football, rugby, boxing, horse racing, etc
Lotteries and Bingo
Scratch cards and slingo (a combination of slots and bingo)
Much like video gaming genres, Italians also have the option of playing real money games online on their PCs or laptops, or as mobile gaming apps, adding even more choice and richness into the mix.