Italy’s gambling market has been fast expanding with the country’s turnover more than doubling between 2008 and 2017, a new report has revealed. According to the Eurispes’ Italy 2019 Report, the turnover skyrocketed from €47.5 billion in 2008 to the whopping €101.8 billion in 2017.
The study didn’t only focus on numbers alone, but also gauged participation rate. Some 30% of all Italians, or three in ten people, participated in a form of gambling. Nearly 19% of all gamblers preferred to stick with offline gambling venues and activities.
A very small segment of players, around 2%, said they only stuck to online gambling activities whereas 7.9% alternated between both retail and Internet gambling. Understandably, Italians focused on widespread activities such as scratch cards and lottery products.
Conducting the survey, Eurispes found out that the majority of all gamblers, estimated 58% preferred sports betting with 22% sticking with AAMS online casino gambling instead. The survey also took a look at the various gambling segment, determining their social impacts.
Slots were called “the bogeyman” of gambling with some 83.4% of all respondents agreeing that the segment was the most likely to lead to reckless gambling behaviour.
In places like the United Kingdom, the so-called Fixed-Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs) have been linked to higher suicide incidence.
The United Kingdom voted measures limiting the maximum stakes allowed at FOBTs to £2, prompting some of the largest gaming companies in the sector to close as many as 700 shops. Interestingly, Italians also found online gambling to be harmful in the extreme, which explains why the majority of players stick to offline gaming.
Until 2018, the gambling market in Italy has been showing strong growth, but this may be coming to an end.
A Blanket Ban and Curtailing Illegal Gambling
Italy’s industry has known some good times but since the arrival of the Five Star Movement, a populist far-right party headed by comedian-turned-politician Giuseppe Grillo, things are looking bleaker. Even though companies haven’t pulled out of Italy, they now need to adapt to a series of rapid changes, including a blanket ban on all advertisement activities in the country.
The ban came into effect in January, 2019, effectively restricting any public advertisement related to gambling – both in physical spaces and online. The move is an attempt to gain favor with voters as the Five Star Movement made banning gambling advertisement one of its campaign promise.
Admittedly, it has been one of the easiest to enact. Potential increase in the tax rate would also create further challenges. Lawmakers are going to tax players’ winnings exceeding EUR 500, which some industry experts fear would limit participation rates, one of the designated goals by the current government.
Online bingo and casinos in Italy are already charged with 25% on gross gaming revenue (GGR) in Italy after the measure was first debated back in 2018. Land-based sports betting venues carry a 22% tax on GGR.
Stricter measures are on the way as the Five Star Movement tries to fulfil its political agenda.