Sports betting continues to grow in Italy despite advertising ban

Revenues for both sports betting and online casinos have seen double digit rises over the last year according to recent data published by the Italian gambling regulator Agenzia delle Dogane e dei Monopoli (ADM).

Coliseum

Gaming revenues continue to rise in Italy, despite the government’s crackdown on the sector. © Pexels.

Sports betting revenue grew by 10.8% to €1.48bn (£1.33bn) in 2018, up from €1.34bn the year prior.

Online sports betting revenue grew even faster, growing 16% to reach €643m (£577.1m). Bet365 remains the most popular operator in Italy with a 16.32% share of the market, followed by SKS365 (14.65%) and Snaitech (10.40%)

Online casino revenue increased even further, rising almost 25% to €710m (£637.2m). Online poker fell by 1% on the year.

These figures make good reading for operators offering services in the Italian market, but the future still doesn’t look particularly bright.

Firstly, operators have been hit with new higher tax rates as of 01 January 2019. Sports betting taxes have risen from 22% to 24% for online operators, while retail operators will now be taxed 20% of their gross gambling yield (GGR). Industry experts Regulus Partners predict that operators could see EBITDA affected by 20-30%.

Operators have warned government that not only will the increase affect the industry, it could lead to more local players using unlicensed operators, meaning the illegal gambling sector could grow.

That’s not to mention the blanket advertising ban announced last year and set to come into force in June.

The so-called Dignity Decree was the first step the new government took in its efforts to tackle gambling. The final form of the legislation states that any form of direct or indirect advertising of a betting product, or a product that offers the oportunity for cash to be won, is banned. Operators found to be in violation of the ban can be fined a minimum of €50,000 for each violation.

Despite the law being passed, there are still many loose ends to be tied up. For example, many operators have signed multi-year deals with Italian football clubs, which will run way past the implementation date of the ban.

Further, it is also unclear how the ban will be enforced in some areas. With a number of Italian football clubs playing in European competitions against other teams that are sponsored by gambling companies, how does the Italian government intend to prevent the companies’ logos being seen when these games are broadcast nationwide?

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