Italy has liberalized its online gambling market, but profits from the virtual poker industry continue to decline.
The number of gamblers looking to play online poker in Italy is declining. A recent report released by the Autonomous Administration of the State Monopolies, the country’s gaming authority, shows that the virtual poker market is continuing to decline.
During January 2014, online poker players wagered a total of EUR 12.2 billion. The number reflects a 20% drop compared to the same month of the previous year and an even more painful 50% fall from January 2012. Tournament revenues also declined by 26% compared to last year’s figures.
Generating more than half of all cash game profits, PokerStars Italy remains the most successful online gambling business in the country.
European Court rules against Italy
Foreign-based operators were banned from the local market for a long time, but last September the Court of Justice of the European Union ruled that Italian gambling laws were not in compliance with EU regulations and forced the government to change its policies.
The court then ruled that national gambling markets can’t be restricted to favor the country’s economic interest, if that means blocking operators which hold licenses in other member states.
“The fact that an operator holds, in the Member State in which it is established, an authorization permitting it to offer betting and gaming does not prevent another Member State, while complying with the requirements of EU law, from making such a provider offering such services to consumers in its territory subject to the holding of an authorization issued by its own authorities,” the court’s ruling said.