The Italian government, true to its promise, is finally set to permit not online live poker table games but also casino style online table games and online slots at online casinos in Italy within six months. Online poker cash games will become available in March of this year while the remainder of online casino games is set to debut sometime this summer. According to Trust Partners, an Italian casino industry consulting firm shows that in 2011 casinos should expect additional revenue of €200 million just from live poker games for a total of €400 million in 2011 from online poker. The projections for 2012 show the online poker market to reach the €1 billion mark.
Giuseppe Casteleone, a 25 year old online poker player, has been waiting for the day he can legally play live cash games in Italian poker rooms for as long as he can remember. He happily comments on a poker blog – “I do not understand this. Online poker tournaments for real money are legal but table poker games are not legal. It’s the same as government (saying) that a pepperoni calzone is legal but a salami calzone is forbidden. They have no right to say what we eat or what we play. If they make one calzone legal they must make all calzones legal. Now (the government) finally correct their foolishness!”
Even though Italy became one of the first European governments to regulate and legalize online gambling, random games were chosen to be legal while others remained forbidden under Italian gambling laws. Italy’s online casino market is growing at a rate of 28% yearly with 96% of the revenue contributed by online tournament poker, online sports betting and online bingo. In 2010, the Italian market was at €4.8 billion and is expected to triple with the introduction of casino style online games. Prima Networks Limited is expected to become the major player in the Italian online casino market, with a clear winner being Microgaming, the company whose software powers Prima Networks.