Italy Looks To Revive Stunted Internet Poker MarketJune 22, 2015 5:32 am
Following regulation, Italy’s decision to separate its online poker players from those of other countries, whilst also introducing punitive taxes for operators, has seen the country’s iPoker revenues continue to slide to their present lackluster levels. In fact, gross gaming revenues fell by a sharp 20% in 2014 and as a result talks have once again turned towards the possibility of Italy now pursuing the UK model and opening its market up to players from all across the globe.
The gaming law amendments would seem to be part of a broader framework for reform known as the Delega Fiscale law, which seeks to align the country’s online poker market with that of other EU countries. Commenting on the reforms, gaming lawyer Giulio Coraggio from DLA Piper, explained:
“The online poker market is facing considerable difficulties worldwide and in countries like Italy, Spain, and France the impact of such crisis might be even higher given that they are closed loop markets. But if poker international sharing liquidity will be allowed, the scenario might considerably change.”
Highlighting the challenges currently facing Italy’s online poker market, the country’s regulatory body, AAMS, has revealed that poker cash games GGR plummeted by 21% in 2014 compared to the previous year, while poker tournament also fell by a worrying 18%. Consequently, the country’s overall online poker GGR is now around €178 million, representing a fraction of what is was once worth before a ring-fenced regulated market was introduced.
Furthermore, in 2014 there were 17% less online poker players than the 247,000 noted in 2013, and even more worrying the game has decreased more sharply in popularity amongst the 18 to 24-year-old demographic, with the largest group of players now falling in the 25 to 34 or the 35 to 44 year-old range. Mirroring the trend of other iGaming markets, however, online poker’s decline has been offset by an increase in growth of online casino games and sports wagering, with revenues up by 6.7% and 11% respectively in 2014.