Italy’s regulated online gambling market revenue rose more than one-fifth in Q1 2016, led by major surges in online casino and sports betting.
According to official government figures, total online gambling revenue from Italian-licensed operators in the three months ending March 31 was €267m, up 21% from the same period last year.
The casino vertical claimed the lion’s share of the overall revenue pie at €106m, representing a hefty 38% year-on-year improvement. The surge was even higher than the 31% rise the casino vertical posted throughout all of 2015. Lottomatica (GTech) is the market’s leading online casino operator, claiming nearly 15% of 2015’s casino revenue.
Online sports betting reported an even larger year-on-year surge, rising 42% to €96m. The gains were spurred by extremely favorable sporting results in January, during which online sportsbook revenue rose 97% to €36m. Bet365 is the market’s unquestioned online sports betting operator, claiming nearly one-fifth of total online betting handle last year.
Sports betting got an entirely different boost in January via the switch from a tax based on wagering turnover to a more reasonable (albeit still high at 22%) tax on betting revenue, allowing Italian operators the means to offer a product more competitive with the international operators serving the market without an Italian license.
Alas, as with other European ring-fenced markets, Italian online poker continued its downward spiral. Tournament revenue was up 6.6% to €22.4m, based largely on strong gains in March. However, cash game poker revenue fell 18% to €20.7m as players struggled to find opponents among the thinning herds trapped inside this walled garden.
The lesser gambling verticals were all in positive territory, with bingo improving 2.9% to €7.5m, virtual sports up 8.2% to €2.6m and exchange wagering jumping 40% to €875k.