Unlicenced Casinos Take 75% Market Share in Italy

The illegal gambling industry wields significant influence in Italy. According to the La Gazzetta dello Sport, a daily sports newspaper, unlicensed gambling providers generate €25 billion in annual turnover (approximately NZD 43.5 billion). Out of this, 75% (€18.5 billion or approximately NZD 31.9 billion) comes from illegal casinos. 

The preference for illegal online casinos amongst Italian consumers is believed to be due to the fierce ban on gambling related ads in the southern European country. The Turin Public Prosecutor’s Office is conducting a large-scale investigation into these illegal gambling companies.

Based on these figures, the European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA) made an estimate, which shows that approximately €1 billion (approximately NZD 1.73 billion) in gross online gambling revenues is taken by the non-regulated gambling market of predominantly offshore online casinos. In order to get to this estimate, the trade association worked sith average RTP of 95%.

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Italian Regulator Combat Against Illegal Operators

Despite the dominant market position of illegal online casinos, the Italian regulator Agenzia delle dogane e dei Monopoli (ADM) says it is doing everything to combat non-regulated online casinos. The regulator says it has managed to block almost 10,000 illegal gambling sites since the beginning of 2023 which stands for an increase of 400 websites in comparison to 2022. It yet seems impossible for the regulator to stop all operators from offering their products to Italian consumers, as new illegal gambling sites are launched on a daily basis. Research by the Turin Public Prosecution Service shows that these unlicensed online casinos are used by criminal organisations to launder large sums of money. Online casino websites are normally expected to follow international Know Your Customer (KYC) and Anti Money Laundering (AML) guides which are put into place to avoid money laundering.

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Increase in Losses Across Different States

In this investigation by ADM, the names of several well-known Italian football players were stated for breaching gambling regulations. First mentioned was the 22-year-old midfielder of Juventus, Nicolò Fagioli. He is said to have made real money wagers at one of the many illegal bookmakers. The names of Italian internationals Sandro Tonali and Nicolo Zaniolo were also described in the study. The midfielders are said to have made illegal bets when they were both still playing in Italy. Both Tonali (Newcastle United) and Zaniolo (Aston Villa) now play in England. The suspicions were so serious that Italian police visited the players at the Italian national team training camp. Following the interrogation, both players were removed from the Italy squad. It is expected that more prominent football players suspected of illegal gambling  will be named in the near future.

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New Gambling Act

In July, the Chamber of Deputies approved the Fiscal Delegation Law, paving the way for a revision of the country’s gambling law. The new gambling law must provide more protection for gamblers and generate more income for the state treasury. On July 12, Italy’s Chamber of Deputies voted by a large majority in favour of the Fiscal Delegation Law drafts. A total of 182 members voted in favour of the law, and 97 members opposed the new bills. The draft laws include changes proposed by the Finance Commission and the law has to pass the Senate. At the beginning of 2023, Deputy Economy Minister Maurizio Leo was put in charge of the delegation that drafted the reforms to modernise the gambling market in Italy. These reforms are mainly aimed at the online gambling market.

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