Italy’s online gambling market started the year off on a bang thanks to a double-digit gains everywhere except – you guessed it – poker cash games.
According to figures compiled by Italian gaming news agency Agimeg.it, the nation’s licensed sports betting operators reported overall turnover rising 35% to €775m in January, 35% higher than the same month last year and €5m higher than December’s total. Online sports betting’s share of this bounty was €420m, up 30% year-on-year.
No prizes for guessing that Bet365 topped the online turnover charts with €140.3m, representing a 33.2% share of the total, up marginally from December’s 32.7%. Eurobet was a distant second with €39.8m, while Sisal (€32.5m) edged out Snai (€30.8m) and William Hill rounded out the top-five with €25.5m.
Online casino revenue grew 22.5% year-on-year to €45.8m, which was €800k higher than December’s take. The top three were unchanged from December, with Lottomatica in front with €4.8m, followed by Sisal (€3.8m) and Amaya Gaming’s PokerStars (€3.6m).
Poker tournament fees were equally buoyant, rising 24% to €8.8m, while poker cash game stakes slipped 1.3% to €7.5m. PokerStars continued to dominate each category, although its tourney share slipped nearly three points to 71.5%.
ANOTHER YEAR, ANOTHER DOLLARO POKER BUST
Meanwhile, Italian authorities have rumbled yet another Mafia-led online gambling operation. On Tuesday, military police arrested 46 members of the Casalesi branch of the Camorra crime syndicate on various charges including extortion and illegal gambling.
Police say some of the arrested gangsters forced shopkeepers to install online gambling terminals, then collected a higher cut than normal (60%) of the gambling profits. The terminals offered games provided by the Romania-based DBG Poker aka Dollaro Poker, which has been linked to the Naples-based Casalesi gang for years.
It was only one year ago that Italian police arrested 11 individuals based on their involvement with a Camorra-linked gang that operated 12k online gambling and video lottery terminals across the country that connected to Dollaro sites. Despite these hits, the Dollaro operation soldiers on, and there’s no suggestion that this week’s bust poses any more of an existential threat that the earlier roundups.
The gambling operation rumbled this week reportedly generated profits of €40k per month for the gangsters. Ironically, prosecutors say half of this sum was used to support the families of imprisoned Casalesi members, of which there are now several dozen more.