Hill’s, Tombola advance in failing Italian market

UK brands William Hill and Tombola continued to make inroads into the regulated Italian market over the summer, albeit achieved in a dot.it gambling sector which has contracted by more than 10% over the last 12 months.

According to figures released by Italian gambling regulator AAMS, William Hill increased its share of the online casino table games market by nearly two percentage points to 8.5% in July, up from 6.6% in June, and while it fell back to 7.3% in August, has firmly cemented its top-five position ahead of the eagerly awaited launch of slot games in Italy in early December.

In online bingo, Tombola increased its share from 11.4% to 12.9% in July and broadly maintained its market share at 12.8% in August. The operator will also be hoping for a further boost from slots, the offline form of which are the most most popular type of gambling among Italians.

Both of the UK operators’ gains were however achieved amid a serious underlying deterioration of the regulated market. The dot.it market is now officially smaller than it was a year ago, given that a full 12 months has now elapsed since the launch of cash poker and casino table games last July, allowing proper year-on-year comparatives.

Revenue from gambling on poker, sports, casino table games, bingo and other products in Italy’s dot.it ring-fenced market in August fell 11.3% year-on-year to €48.8m from €55.1m a year earlier, with all products suffering declines over the summer with the exception of fixed odds sports betting.

Revenue from the dominant poker, casino table games and skill gaming segment – which represented 68.2% of GGR from the dot.it market in August  – tumbled 10% during July and August from €38m to €33.9m. The latter figure was 17% down on the total returned a year earlier. The bulk of the fall was accounted for by the drop-off in revenues from cash poker, which fell nearly €10m short of the €24.1m generated in August 2011, the first full month of dot.it ring games in Italy (for more detail see separate article on poker).

In casino table games, Lottomatica kept itself in the box seat to capitalise on December’s slots launch, commanding 25.8% of GGR from this segment in June, keeping it ahead of bwin.party’s GiocoDigitale.it, bwin.it and PartyCasino.it brands with 12.3%. Casino table games, while suffering a cumulative fall of 7% during the months of July and August, were however up 45.2% up year-on-year, reflecting the slower growth trajectory for these products from last summer compared to cash poker (for a more detailed operator breakdown, see below).

The erratic fixed odds sports betting market, which has struggled to gain traction against offshore sites due to a high turnover tax and a limited choice choice of betting events and markets, however was up 18.5% year-on-year. Lottomatica also maintained its dominance of this sector, commanding a market share of above 25% in August.

Online bingo, hindered by a prohibitive turnover tax, however suffered the most catastrophic fall, down 18.3% month-over-month to €3m in August from €3.7m in June, and a huge 33.9% year-on-year. bwin.party’s retained its lead in this fast-shrinking segment through its GiocoDigitale and PartyBingo brands, ahead of Lottomatica and UK brand Tombola (again, see below for more detail).

In addition to the slots launch in December and the potential pooling of poker liquidity with Spain, Italian regulator AAMS will soon allow licensed operators to offer bets on more events, virtual bets and exchange betting, in an effort to boost the attractiveness of betting on regulated sites for Italian punters.

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

Casino table games – leading operators**

Lottomatica – 25.8% (26.6%)
bwin.party (including Gioco Digitale) – 12.3% (11.9%)
Snai 8.6% (8.3%)
Sisal 7.9% (9.2%)
William Hill – 7.3% (6.6%)
(888 – 5.8%)

Fixed-odds sports betting – leading operators**

Lottomatica (including Better.it and Totosi.it) – 25.5%
bwin.party (bwin.it and GiocoDigitale.it) – 13.1%
Sisal – 10.5%
SNAI – 9.6%
Eurobet 7.3%

Bingo – leading operators**

bwin.party (including GiocoDigitale.it) – 28.5% (25.6%)
Lottomatica – 17.9% (18.6%)
Tombola – 12.8% (11.4%)
Sisal – 10.3% (10.6%)
SNAI – 7.4% (7.3%)

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

Article written by Stephen Carter

Casino Choice journalist

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