Italian Gambling Booms on World Cup, As Advertising Ban Continues to Loom Large - partycasino

Italian Gambling Booms on World Cup, As Advertising Ban Continues to Loom Large

The FIFA World Cup is one of, if not the, gambling event of the year, every time it shows up. With online and mobile betting in particular, the World Cup remains a flagship event, and one responsible for driving record betting revenues around the world. The recent tournament has been no exception, with several international gambling markets reporting all time records in terms of gambling revenues processed over the course of July.

The latest to post strong results is Italy, where bookmakers have enjoyed a bumper summer. The news is particularly interesting, given that Italy failed to qualify for the tournament in an early shock. But alongside their lack of involvement, the prospect of a closing regulatory net in Italy that looks set to shake up the gambling industry continues to loom large over operators.

Specifically, there are well-developed plans afoot for a change in the law, designed to effectively outlaw all forms of gambling advertising. With the most recent change of government, and the installation of a new governing coalition in Italy, the threat of a total ban on gambling advertising remains – a move many within the industry feel could seriously threaten revenues and employment in the country.

The strong figures were first discussed in local gaming news site Agimeg, which covers developments in the Italian gaming scene. According to their figures, sports betting operators in Italy saw their figures grow to over €114 million in July, a growth of around 32.4% on the figures from the same month last year. Revenues from retail betting were up to €62.8 million, up 30.8% on the year, while the corresponding figures for online were €51.5 million, for an increase of 34.4%.

Looking at the total run of 2018 so far, betting revenues across the board were up to €852 million, representing a growth of 43.3%, while the online portion accounted for €361 million, up 43.5%. The figures demonstrate strong performance from the sports betting sector, and show year on year growth in the Italian gambling market.

However, many within the industry are concerned about the impact of the ban on advertising, which is scheduled to come into force in January 2019. Under the laws, operators will be banned from advertising gambling services at all, which is expected to significantly hit revenues across the sector. This is also immediately bad news for Italy’s government coffers, despite their desperate need for more funds. On today’s figures, the government share stood at around €168 million for the period.

Bet365 posted the biggest revenues in Italy for the period at €157 million, with SKS365 the next closest operator, in terms of revenues handled, at €41 million. On retail-only wagering, Snaitech continues to be the frontrunner, posting revenues of €59.5 million.

Interestingly, much of the growth was attributed to virtual betting, but in retail locations, with mobile and online gambling more broadly also showing strong performance.

It chimes with a cooling political climate in Italy around gambling, after calls from Deputy Prime Minister Luigi Di Maio to replace gambling machines with pinball machines in outlets across the country. In what has now become a popular meme in the country, Di Maio says “pinball has never ruined anyone,” which is posits as a ‘friendlier’ alternative to gambling.

For the time being, it looks as though the successes of the gambling industry in Italy will be halted in their tracks come January. The government line isn’t exactly helpful to the industry either, nor to those whose livelihoods depend on jobs within the gambling sector. But then, with the current Italian government, it never looked like being business as usual.

While there is still time for a change of heart, it looks as though the foolhardy gambling provisions will ultimately come to pass. For operators in Italy, now is perhaps a good time to enjoy the ups, while preparing for the inevitable downs that will come from the more restrictive pending legislative approach.