In Italy, online poker is slowly losing speed in terms of revenues, while online casino earnings are ascending.
Online poker oeprators in Italy have been battling ever since the government decided to launch an assault on the ring-fenced market, applying strict Italian gambling laws with regards to online poker. Indeed, Italian players have been separated from the international player pool since 2007.
Italy recently released figures comparing online poker revenues with online casino profits, with the latter upscaling the total generated revenues for 2012, over a two-year period. The online poker’s negative trend was at an all-time low, even during the jovial holiday season of December, falling by 24% compared to 2014.
Poker fever not so hot in winter
For in December 2014, online poker raked in €8.5 million but in December 2013 it had done better, hauling in €11.2 million in. There was even a bigger gap between 2012 and 2014 pokers earnings, with licensed Italian poker rooms making a €14.8 million profit, down $2 million from 2013, and around 43% less than the market output in 2012.
Tournament poker hasn’t fared better either. According to AGIMEG, tournament revenues declined by 5%. The industry made €70 million in 2013, and €65 million in 2014, with December 2014 incomes falling by 24% in comparison to same period in December 2013. There was an $8.5 million difference, between what was played and what was won.
Full Tilt pulled out of Italy before it even got there
Perhaps the steady decline is what prompted Full Tilt to make its decision not to bring the poker room to Italy. Officially, the poker giant confirmed that it would not make an entrance into Italy’s regulate online poker market. Full Tilt remains though one of the best gaming destinations that concentrates on providing an exception poker experience to its large customer base worldwide.
• Online Casino Outreaches Online Poker
• Gov’t ring-fenced market possible cause
• Italy’s Pokerstars has monopoly in Italy
• Bitcoin may be solution to online poker woes
Amidst the gravity facing poker operators with earnings declining, there is one operator holding its own in Italy. Poker Stars, for one, still has a dogmatic role in the country. It is quite popular, with millions of players accessing their online poker sites in Italy, making it have a kind of a monopoly on the market. The operators managed to grab 52.5% from ring games and a whopping 72% of the total revenues from hosting online tournaments.
Also doing well in Italy are casino operators. They are content to have a second successful year in a row, as the sector managed to end 2014 with a 24% rise in Gross Gaming Revenues (GGR). DLA Piper’s partner, Giulio Corragio, cops the sector’s luck down to the fact that casino games’ suppliers have ceased to give their games away to other operators outside of the Italian platforms.
Other Casino Operators want in too
Corragio added that “players that were accustomed to a specific type of casino game found themselves in the situation of being obliged to switch to Italian licensed platforms. Due to the casino industry hauling in millions, other international operators are inspired.
Soon, Finnish gambling group Paf – Play Among Friends will enhance mobile casino gambling in Italy with the Winga acquisition. Winga, a licensed online casino and poker operator, raked in revenues of around $10 million last year.
Anders Ingves, Paf Chief Executive Officer, said the aim was to expand Paf’s international strategy to the Italian casino market. He further explained that “The acquisition of Winga is part of our strategy of continued internationalization and expansion”.
While there is a great potential in Winga’s well-secured base, when teamed up with Paf’s international industry experience and a wider range of products, it makes for a great merger. Winga will provide more casino games and betting to the Italian market while Paf will continue to develop its strategies before taking center stage itself on the Mediterranean soil.
Bitcoins keep online casino industry in US afloat
While Italian poker operators are crying ‘mama mia – look what’s happening to us’, Uncle Sam is smiling as online poker has picked up due to the rise in use of the crypto-currency Bitcoin. Phil Nagy, Americas Cardroom CEO praised the effects of bitcoin usage, saying that “Bitcoin is a great opportunity and also well represents 10 % of our global business, with daily transactions up to $ 1,000. We are always looking for new ways to make life easier for poker players. That’s why we added Bitcoin in our training methods of payment”.
Maybe, Bitcoin the cyber currency which can be converted into dollars and euros, be it real or virtual, could help Italy’s online poker industry to recover their winning streak in 2015.