In 2006 Italy introduced regulations for land-based and online gambling allowing companies to operate sports betting at retail locations and over the Internet as well as regulations for remote and land-based casino gaming. As most of the European Union increased restrictions on online gambling, Italy by contrast liberalized its policies.
In 2009 Italy implemented several regulations that reorganized the framework for online gaming and (for the first time) regulated "live sport poker." The "Comunitaria" decree, which was published in early 2011, regulates the award of new Italian remote gaming licenses and the upgrade of existing Italian licenses to the new regulating body. There are 200 licenses available to award under the new regulations.
In order to qualify for an Italian remote gaming license, operators need to be licensed and established within a European Economic Area (EEA) state and have a permanent link-up with the Autonomous Administration of State Monopoly’s (AAMS, the Italian licensing authority) centralized system for compliance, monitoring, and tax purposes. Gambling companies incorporated in Italy are subject to Italy's 27.5% corporate income tax rate. Gambling companies must also pay a regional tax of between 2.98 and 4.82% based on the region in which they were established.
In 2010, the total amount of money spent on sites during the first eight months was estimated at around €3 billion, roughly 40% more than in 2009. Wagers in August 2010 exceeded those of August 2009 by 28%. Online poker generated over €200 million for the Italian state in the first three months of 2011. The €4.8 billion turnover of the 2010 Italian online gaming market was projected to double by the beginning of 2012 with the launch of online poker and casino-style betting in 2011.
In March 2011, the Official Gazette of the Italian government published a change to online gaming regulations in Italy. Operators holding an Italian license were given the right to legally offer poker games and casinos to their players. A 20% tax on gross profits is to be collected by the state. The return rate for players was set at a minimum of 90%, and it is anticipated that this new legalization will double the turnover of online games in Italy over the next year.
In July 2011, the Italian regulatory authority approved online casino games to be made available to existing licensed operators. A November 2011 date was set for online poker cash games. AAMS accepted the industry recommendation and agreed to a 20% tax on gross profits. If this tax does suffice in bringing in the estimated tax revenues, AAMS may implement a turnover tax. Other parameters include a 90% rate of return and the maximum initial stake during each gaming session will be limited to €1,000.
In August 2011, the passage of online casino gambling was successful. The gaming volumes have been between three and 10 times higher per week compared to the previous period. The revised turnover estimates for the Italian online gambling market for 2011 exceed €10 billion. The estimates for 2012 are at over €20 billion. Two major influences on the Italian online gambling market in 2012 will be the launch of online slots games, which is expected in the first quarter, and the entry of a number of major foreign operators who are presently evaluating the scenario.
February 2012: New data released from AAMS states the regulated online gambling market grew by 21% in February boosted by a recovering fixed-odds sports betting market. Online poker, casino, bingo, and sports betting produced gross gaming revenue of € 78.6m, a 20.6% increase from the January figure of €65.17m and a 7.7% increase for year-on-year representing the second-highest monthly revenue from a regulated market. The increase in revenue was achieved despite a 9% month-over-month fall in total wagering to €1.37bn from €1.51bn the previous month.
March 2012: The Italian online gambling market is now considered one of the most suitable territories to launch online gambling businesses. Online casino operators, some of the biggest in the industry, have been licensed already and many others are lining up to secure an online gaming license.
May 2012: Gross Gaming Yield in Italy came to €18.5bn in 2011 and has risen 50% for the prior five years.
December 2012: Over 50 websites offering more than 1,400 slot games online launched this month on Italian licensed sites. Italian players are likely to switch to the licensed platforms from the black market unlicensed websites causing a significant growth in the Italian online gaming market.
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