Italy’s betting market falls as coalition gov’t teeters on the brink

TAGs: Italy

italy-sports-betting-falls-government-teetersItaly’s sports betting market took a dip in July thanks to the lack of a certain international football tournament, but the country’s government appears in for an even bigger fall.

Figures released by Italy’s Agenzia delle Dogane e dei Monopoli (ADM) regulatory body show locally licensed sports betting revenue hitting €95.3m in July, down 16.6% from the same month last year, which included the final rounds of the 2018 FIFA World Cup. Betting turnover was down 6.25% year-on-year to €909.7m.

Local operator Snaitech claimed the biggest chunk (14.9%) of overall betting revenue, with Goldbet not far behind at 14.3%. Bet365 ranked sixth overall with a 9.5% share but ranked first in terms of online betting revenue with 19.1%, well ahead of runner-up SKS365 and its PlanetWin365 brand with 11.9%.

The online casino vertical showed no sign of pining for the World Cup, as casino revenue was up 14.6% to €64.4m, with The Stars Group’s PokerStars brand out front with a 10.6% share, easily outpacing Lottomatica (8.3%) and Sisal (7.9%).

Virtual sports betting also had a strong month, with combined online and land-based revenue up nearly 12% to €23.5m. Goldbet was the undisputed virtual champ with a nearly one-third share, while runner-up Snai claimed a 17.2% slice.

Online poker didn’t fare nearly as well, with tournaments down 11.1% to €5.3m and cash games off 6.6% to €4.4m. As always, PokerStars claimed the bulk of both tournament (61.6%) and cash games (44.1%), with no other operator scoring in the double-digits.

For the year-to-date, betting revenue is up 2.8% while casino improved by 16.9% and virtual betting rose 14.8%. Both poker verticals spoiled the positive party, with cash games (-10.4%) taking a much greater hit than tournaments (-4.6%).

Meanwhile, the perpetual state of upheaval that is Italian politics is raising questions about the future of the country’s new gambling advertising prohibition. Earlier this week, leaders of both of Italy’s governing coalition partners threatened to replace the country’s media regulator for saying the ad ban was unworkable and would achieve the opposite of its stated goals of reducing gambling harms.

On Thursday, Gaming Undersecretary Alessio Villarosa announced that he’d prepared a ministerial circular that would actually increase the already onerous restrictions on promoting gambling in the so-called Dignity Decree to include ‘simple general information’ in the list of no-nos, along with the previously stated ban on sponsorships and radio, TV and online promos.

But on Friday, Lega boss and deputy premier Matteo Salvini (pictured) filed a no-confidence motion against Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte. Legislators will vote on the motion this Monday (12), opening up the likelihood of a snap election, possibly as early as October.

(For what it’s worth, Salvini’s announcement came mere hours after Buzzfeed posted an alarming report on numerous trips a Salvini lieutenant made to Russia that weren’t recorded in Russia’s official database of foreigners entering the country. Most of the travel in question came before and after the infamous meeting at which Russia promised to funnel cash to Salvini’s party ahead of last year’s European Union elections. So Salvini appears to be throwing his nation into electoral chaos to distract from his own bad press.)

The far-right Lega is currently way ahead in the polls compared to its leftist Five Star Movement coalition partner, so Salvini appears to be gambling that Lega might be able to rule without the need for a partner. Five Star boss Luigi Di Maio has been the most vocal advocate for reining in the country’s gambling industry, but whatever might emerge in October is anybody guess.


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