Evolution and Lottomatica Live Casino Hold’em; bookies fear exchange launch

italy-lottomatica-evolution-gaming-neteller-iptLive-dealer specialists Evolution Gaming have teamed with Italian operator Lottomatica to launch Italy’s first sanctioned poker-style live dealer casino offering. The Live Casino Hold’em table is the first such product authorized by Italian regulator AAMS and this week’s launch was celebrated with the presence of two-time World Series of Poker bracelet winner Max Pescatori. The product is currently available via PC and Mac with an iPad version coming this fall. Lottomatica already offers live-dealer roulette, blackjack and baccarat via its dedicated, branded area within Evolution’s live casino production studios in Riga, Latvia.

While companies like Betfair and Ladbrokes’ subsidiary Betdaq are eagerly anticipating the imminent launch of exchange betting in Italy, the country’s fixed-odds sports betting firms aren’t nearly so overjoyed. Italy’s sports betting sector saw turnover drop 20% last year, and fixed-odds operators fear punters will soon switch to exchange betting due to its more favorable tax rates. Fixed-odds firms have been saddled with a rate of 2-5% of turnover, which equates to around 50% of these operators’ profits. Last month, betting exchanges learned they would enjoy the same 20% gross profits tax imposed on casino and cash poker games.

Online payment processor Optimal Payments has announced that its Neteller subsidiary will serve as sponsor for all five events of the 2013 Italian Poker Tour (IPT). As part of the new deal, IPT players already holding a Neteller account can earn their buy-in to the next IPT event simply by finishing higher than any other Neteller customer. The player who ends up as ‘bubble boy’ (or bubble girl) at the IPT Grand Final will earn a check for €1k. The IPT’s first event is currently under way in San Marino, while the remaining events are as follows: San Remo 1 (July 25-29); Nova Gorica (Aug. 22-26); San Remo 2 (Oct. 24-28) and the Grand Final Saint Vincent (Nov. 28 – Dec. 2).