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Betting in Italy

Published on: 01/02/2016

Italy’s gambling history can be traced back to 300BC, when a board game known as “Duodecim Scriptorum” was played. The dice-based game eventually evolved into the popular modern game of Backgammon. The Italian government also authorised the world’s very first casino, known as “The Ridotto”, which was located in Venice in 1638. In the Renaissance era, lotteries became extremely popular and the numbers game was soon being played all throughout Europe.

Today in Italy, the only illegal gambling sport is dog racing. However horseracing is very popular, and there are at least seven race courses located nationwide. The facilities are known as “Ippodromos” harking back to the old Roman Empire when Hippodrome chariot race tracks existed. Throughout Italy, there are nine casino venues located in Venice, Saint Vincent, Milan, San Remo, Merano and Campione, but surprisingly there are none to be found in the Capital of Rome.

By the mid-2000s, horseracing and sports gambling made up approximately 14% of Italy’s betting industry and generated around €39m per year. In 2006, Italy’s Amministrazione Autonoma Monopoli di Stato, or AAMS, decided to boost the countries gambling market further through the issue of new betting licences.

A huge number of these licences were assigned to Italian companies. A share of 37% was issued to Snai, who created over 5,000 gambling establishments. A further 28% were gained by Matchpoint, who opened just under 4,000 venues. Lottomaticas gained 11.9% and created over 1,500 outlets. In addition to the dedicated gambling venues, citizens can place bets in all sorts of establishments, including cafes, kiosks and race tracks.

Gambling companies founded in Great Britain, such as Ladbrokes, William Hill, Eurobet and Leisure & Gaming, all took advantage of Italy’s flexible betting industry. As a co-operative, they obtained a 4.7% licence share and opened nearly 700 venues bookies for multiple forms of betting including horseracing.

Italian sports web sites benefitted the most from the liberation of the countries gambling market. In 2007, a law was passed making all online betting fully legal in Italy.

Ladbrokes and Gala Coral both created online sportsbooks using the Italian language. Codere joined William Hill PLC and together they obtained remote licences to offer sports and horseracing betting opportunities via the internet. Also Sportingbet and Betfair were early contenders who were permitted to conduct business via online sportsbooks.

It has been reported by CasinoCity that approximately 350 English sportsbooks welcome play from Italy, and a further 170 betting sites provided by companies such as Bwin, Gamebookers, Bet365, Unibet and Party Bets are made available in the Italian language. As result, attempts have been made by the Italian government to keep revenues within the country by directing internet betting to dot-IT sites. In addition, foreign sportsbooks addresses have been blocked. However, these measures have not succeeded and the Italian citizens are still wagering on gambling websites based abroad. The controversial actions taken by the Italian government has led to legal proceedings, as they contravene EU regulations.

Many eWallets, including NETeller and MoneyBookers are happy to accept business from Italian punters. The currency used on Italian-based sportsbooks is the Euro. Italian cardholders using Visa credit and MasterCard have a choice of over 2,000 gambling web sites, of which nearly 1,000 provide assistance using the Italian language.