PokerStars.it launched blackjack and roulette games last month and has now expanded its casino options to include slots play. Stars’ new slots titles include content developed in-house as well as games provided by third-party providers such as Leander Games and Quickspin.
Stars’ Italian country manager Marco Trucco told eGaming Review that May’s introduction of table games hadn’t resulted in any “significant negative impact” to the site’s core poker business. Trucco offered no timeline on when PokerStars.it might follow the lead of its Spanish counterpart and add sports betting to the product mix, saying only that a sports launch would depend on the product being ready and regulators giving their okay.
Italian news agency AGIMEG recently claimed that Stars had captured over three-quarters of the Italian market’s tournament poker revenue. Stars’ tournament take is roughly ten times higher than second-ranked Lottomatica and Stars’ share of Italy’s cash-games market is believed to be only slightly less dominant at 54%. But the overall online poker pie is shrinking, falling 20% last year, according to a Milan Polytechnic report.
Plans to bolster the country’s poker market by sharing liquidity with regulated markets in France and Spain appear to have stalled. The Italian Council of Ministers was supposed to vote this week on approving the Delega Fiscale, which, among other things, would transfer most gaming-related decision-making from regional governments to a central authority.
The proposed gaming amendments include eagerly anticipated tax reforms, such as a switch from a turnover-based tax to one calculated on gaming revenue. The amendments also authorize the government to ink liquidity sharing deals with other European Union markets. But regional government protests over their proposed diminished status, along with squabbles over subsidies for the country’s racing industry, are holding up a vote on the amendments.
Fears are mounting that Italian politicians could opt for expediency by stripping the gaming amendments from the Delega Fiscale in order to ensure passage of the legislation by the June 27 deadline. Should that occur, the gaming portions would need to be resubmitted as a standalone bill, resulting in further delays for implementation.