Italy’s sports betting market took a small step back in March while online casino revenue leaped ahead by nearly one-fifth.
Figures compiled by the Agenzia della Dogane e dei Monopoli (ADM) regulatory body show total land-based and online sports betting revenue hitting €106.4m in March, a 4.2% decline from the same month last year. Through the first quarter of 2019, overall betting revenue is up a modest 1.4% to €391m.
Land-based betting was responsible for March’s decline, as retail revenue fell 9% to €54.4m while online betting revenue was up 1.2% to €52m. Similar patterns occurred over Q1, during which online betting rose nearly 10% to €179.1m while retail betting was down nearly 5% to €211.8m.
The Italian-licensed operation of UK betting giant Bet365 claimed the online betting crown with a 15.9% share of March’s total, relegating the Rome-based SKS365 and its flagship Planetwin365 brand to second place with a 13% share. The top-five was rounded by locals Snaitech (11.6%), GVC Holdings’ Eurobet brand (9.85%) and Sisal (9.8%). In terms of overall wagering, the Goldbet group claimed top honors with a 14.8% share.
The online casino market showed no signs of slowing down in March, shooting up 19.8% year-on-year to €72.6m, pushing the Q1 total to €206m (+17.6%). The Stars Group’s PokerStars brand claimed the biggest online casino revenue slice at 11.1%, followed by Sisal (8%), Lottomatica (7.5%), 888 Holdings (6.7%) and Eurobet (6.5%).
Virtual betting also enjoyed double-digit growth in March, rising 19.7% to €27.3m – a new market record, exceeding January’s €25.8m – the bulk of which (€24.9m) was spent at retail outlets. Goldbet claimed a nearly 29% share of the virtuals market, followed by Snaitech (17.8%) and Eurobet (15.4%).
Online poker had reasons to fear the Ides of March, as tournament revenue slipped 9.3% to €7.2m while cash games were off nearly 15% to €5.3m. For the year-to-date, tournaments are down 3.4% to €23.4m while cash games have fallen 13.6% to €16.4m. As usual, PokerStars dominated both verticals (a 61.4% share of tournament revenue, 39% for cash games).
Tax figures released by the Ministry of Finance show the average Italian spent 1.86% of their income on gambling products in 2017. The average was much higher in the Campania region (3.3%), while the other end of the scale was found in Trentino Alto Adige (1.1%). The average Italian spent 1.1% of their income on slots and video lottery terminals, while sports betting averaged only around 0.1%.
Meanwhile, Italy’s ban on all gambling advertising has diminished 1xBet’s interest in the new Italian license the Russian operator was awarded in February. Last month, the firm’s marketing manager Filipp Cherny told Italian affiliate Agimeg that, so long as the Italian government keeps its ban in place, “the Italian market is not at the center of our business.”