Sports betting slump hinders Italian recovery

Signs of recovery in Italy’s regulated online gambling market last month were undermined by a poor performance from the country’s ailing fixed-odds sports betting segment, the latest dataset from Italian regulator AAMS has shown.

Revenue from gambling on poker, casino, bingo and sports and other products in Italy’s ringfenced online market fell 15% month-over-month during May to €57.5m, from €67.7m the previous month, due mainly to a massive fall in gross gaming revenue (GGR) from fixed-odds sports betting.

Hindered by a turnover tax and narrower choice of markets than those on offer from offshore sites, fixed odds sports revenue fell 56% month-over-month to €7.9m, from €18m in April. The regulator will soon allow licensed operators to offer bets on a wider range of events, as well as virtual bets and exchange betting, in an effort to boost the attractiveness of betting on regulated sites for Italian punters.

While May’s overall figure for the Italian market was 30% up year-on-year, the comparative period last year did not include cash poker and casino table games, which did not go live until July 2011. AAMS however said that despite the current lack of consistent year-on-year comparatives, the market had benefitted to the tune of €77.3m from the launch of ring games and casino table games during 2012, due to the combined €102m and €55m revenues from these products to the end of May exceeding the corresponding €79.7m fall-off in spending on skill games, including poker tournaments, by this amount.

Revenue from the dominant poker, casino and skill games segment, accounting for 66.8% of the market to the end of May, held up well in the face of the traditional seasonal slowdown, the total of €42.5m down just 1.6% on April’s figure of €43.2m.

In casino table games, Lottomatica retained its stranglehold, accounting for more than 25% of this total, ahead of bwin.party, that operates the Gioco Digitale.it PartyCasino.it and bwin.it brands, with 11.5%. William Hill however slipped out of the top five, as its market share slipped 1%, allowing Winga to reclaim this spot (see below for more detailed breakdown). This was also the one Italian market segment to turn in positive growth during May, up 12.5% since April to €12m, its best monthly return since regulation.

Cash poker also bucked the traditional seasonal slowdown and its 26% three-month reverse to remain stable at €18m. Tournament poker however its decline at the hands of the ring game format, an increased choice of games for Italians and the seasonal dip, falling 13.25% month-over-month to €14.4m, 54.8% down year-on-year (for more on this, including market shares, see separate article).

In bingo, UK brand Tombola consolidated its third-place position in Italy, increasing its share of GGR from the regulated market to 11.1% from 10.8% in April, as did leader bwin.party’s Gioco Digitale brand, up to 25.5% from 25%, with local incumbents Lottomatica, Sisal and Snai all correspondingly losing market share. William Hill also made its presence felt for the first time, albeit with just 1.1% of the market at this stage.

Online bingo in Italy, taxed on turnover like sports betting, however continued to struggle, down 2.3% to €3.7m from €3.8m, 30.1% down year-on-year, the latter also down to its cannibalisation by newer products.

Italy online casino and bingo market – May 2012 (% share of GGR)*

Casino table games – leading operators**

Lottomatica – 25.6% (25.7%)
bwin.party – 11.5% (10.7%)
Sisal – 8.5% (10%)
Snai – 8% (8.8%)
Winga – 7% (7.4%)
William Hill – 6.8% (7.7%)
(888 – 6.5%)

Bingo – leading operators**

bwin.party (including GiocoDigitale.it) – 25.5% (25%)
Lottomatica – 17.7% (18.2%)
Tombola – 11.1% (10.84%)
Sisal – 9.7% (10.54%)
Snai – 7.9% (7.65%)
(William Hill 1.11%)

*April 2012 figures in brackets
**Calculations by Casino Choice based on AAMS data

Casino Choice journalist

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