Fast poker given go-ahead in Italy

Existing operators in Italy’s regulated online poker market will soon be able to offer fast-fold poker games to their players, the country’s gaming regulator announced today.

Guidelines for the application process and certification of platforms for “fast poker”, allowing players to quick-fold pre-flop and jump instantly to another table, were published on Italian gaming regulator AAMS’ website this afternoon.

Players will be able to join a maximum simultaneous player pool of 5,000, with each individual fast poker table accommodating up to 10 players. The same maximum stake of €1,000 per session will apply for fast-fold poker as it does for poker cash games and tournaments, requiring players to reload from their account once this limit is reached. Individual session times will be restricted to 72 hours.

Stakeholders in the country’s online gaming market are clearly hoping the launch of speed poker, alongside the forthcoming regulation of slot games, sports bets on a wider range of events, virtual bets and exchange betting will boost the attractiveness of betting on regulated sites for Italian punters and arrest an ongoing decline in the country’s ring-fenced online gambling market.

In poker, ring game revenues generated by the segregated player pool suffered a 27% cumulative fall in in the four months to the end of May, according to AAMS’ most recent dataset, with May’s figure of €18m the smallest full monthly return from regulated cash games in Italy since they went live last July.

The leading room in the regulated Italian market, PokerStars, which commanded 26.3% of ring game and 37.5% of tournament revenues from the market in May, went live with fast-fold variant Zoom Poker in March, aimed at filling the void left by the closure of Rush Poker owner Full Tilt in June last year, and has since launched this product in the regulated French market. Italy’s No 2 poker network, Playtech’s iPoker, which powers operators such as Snai, Sisal, Titan, Eurobet and Cogetech and accounted for 13.1% of cash game and 12.7% of tournament revenues in May, also recently began rolling out speed hold’em tables for clients such as bet365, William Hill and Paddy Power in markets.

The owner of the leading poker network in Italy, Microgame, the skins on which accounted for 26.8% of the ring game market in May, is currently restricted to the Italian market so has yet to launch a fast-fold poker variant.

Casino Choice journalist

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