Italy’s online casino operators were the outstanding performers on the market in 2019 as growth in sports betting slowed and the decline in poker continued unabated.
Data released this week by Italy’s regulatory body Agenzia delle Dogane e dei Monopoli (ADM) shows the country’s sports betting operators created combined ground-based and online revenue of € 1,59b in 2019, an increase of 7.4 percent over 2018. Retail betting increased by 3.2 per cent to € 867.5 million while online betting increased by 13.2 per cent to € 725.2 million.
Betting growth in 2019, which was 3.4 percentage points lower than 10.8 percent in 2018, came as a result of a remarkable increase in revenue in December, which jumped 123 percent year-on-year to € 216 million, the best performance of any month last year. While online betting revenue in December nearly doubled to € 91 million, retail wagering soared to € 125 million by 153 per cent.
Bet365’s Italian site in December won top online betting honours, scoring an impressive 26.7% of sales and 13.7% of online revenue. The Snaitech division of Playtech ranked second in the revenue chart with a 13.5% share, while SKS365 ranked third with 12.1%.
The vertical online casino came close to de-throning retail gaming in 2019, rising its sales by an incredible 17.1 percent to € 831.4 m, thanks to revenue shooting up nearly 21 percent to € 85.1 m in December. The PokerStars brand of the Stars Group reported the largest slice (10.4 percent) of the online casino bounty for 2019, comfortably ahead of local lads Sisal (8.1 percent) and Lottomatica (7.9 percent).
Online poker continued its slide into irrelevance, with tournament revenue dropping 5.2% to € 77.6 million, while cash games slid 7.8% to € 60.1 million. PokerStars claimed revenue from both the tournament (60.4 percent) and cash games (41.8 percent) to the lion’s share. Sisal claimed a 7.3 percent share of the runner-up position in the tournament, while Lottomatica ranked second in 6.9 percent cash games.
Italy’s sports betting operators are likely to gain a boost from this summer’s Euro 2020 tournament, although this will mark the first major international football competition under Italy’s new advertising and sponsorship restrictions, so it’ll be interesting to see how operators adjust their previous years ‘ practises.
Italy’s land-based operators face fresh challenges in 2020, thanks to the government’s approval in late December of tax hikes on revenue from slots and video lottery terminals (VLTs). Slots will now be taxed at 23.85% (+ 2.17), while VLTs will be taxed at 8.5% (+ 0.6). Customers must pay a VLT winnings tax of 20 per cent above € 200 and lottery winners above € 500.
Despite making their service less appealing, Italy is preparing a tender for the rights of nine new gaming machine concessions, with a total of 200k slots, 50k VLTs and 35k entertainment with bonus machines up for grabs. The individual concessions that the government expects to grant before the year runs out will come at a cost of € 2.5 m a piece and will be valid for a nine year span.