Italian poker plunges 30% year-on-year

The extent of the decline in Italy’s ring-fenced online poker market began to reveal itself yesterday, when regulator AAMS published the first set of full comparatives since cash games were introduced in July 2011.

Total revenue generated by the dot.it segregated player pool from cash games and tournaments was €23.4m in August this year, 30.7% down on the €33.8m generated in August 2011.

The contraction of Europe’s most mature dot.country poker market by nearly a third in 12 months, despite the injection of ring game revenues from last July, raises key questions regarding the sustainability of national ring-fenced player pools.

High taxes, coupled with the more limited choice of games and smaller prize pools than those available on open dot.com sites are now accepted to have hindered the growth of dot.country poker markets. AAMS is now in talks with Spain’s DGOJ over the potential pooling of liquidity from 2013.

The bulk of the ongoing decline in Italy’s poker market in August was driven by ring games, where revenues plunged 41% year-on-year to €14.2m, following a cumulative decline of 5.3% during the months of July and August.

Tournament revenues were down 5.1% year-on-year to €9.1m, following a further decline of 21% during July and August, due to continued cannibalisation by other products introduced into the market last year, in particular poker ring games, and also the quieter summer period.

PokerStars.it however strengthened its already dominant position as the leading operator in the ring-fenced market, opening a significant gap over its rivals during July and August in both ring game and tournament formats.

In cash games, PokerStars.it increased its market share in August to 32.2% – approaching a third of the market – up from 26.9% in June. The share of revenues generated by the myriad skins on Microgame’s People Poker Network however tumbled to 17.8% from 19.9% in July and 23.5% in June, according to calculations by Casino Choice based on AAMS data. Microgame has been migrating players to a new cash poker client over the summer, and also lost licensee Scommettendo.it to smaller network rival Gioco Online Italia earlier this year.

This allowed Playtech’s iPoker to close the gap in the network stakes, its licensees growing their market share of cash games to 15.8%, driven by the continued advance in Italy of Titanbet.it, which took its share of cash revenues above 3% in August. Microgame however completed the transfer of all Texas Hold’Em tables to the new platform on 2 October, and its skins will be looking to claw back the ground lost over the summer.

In tournaments, PokerStars increased its market share to 44%, with Microgame’s People’s Network falling behind both rival networks Ongame and iPoker (see below for more detailed breakdown).

However, Ongame’s share of tournament revenue would fall to just 2.4% once the contributions of GiocoDigitale.it and bwin.it are removed, as they will be from the first quarter of 2013 when their players will be migrated to the PartyPoker platform. In cash games, Ongame’s market share decreases to 3.9% without the bwin.party-owned brands.

Italy online poker market – August 2012 (% of GGR)*

Cash games – leading rooms/operators

PokerStars.it – 32.2% (26.9%)
Lottomatica/Totosi.it – 12.8% (14%)
Gioco Digitale.it – 7% (6.4%)
La Multipla – 6.5% (8%)
SNAI – 4.7% (4.6%)
Sisal – 3.5% (3.2%)

Cash games – leading networks**

Microgame/People’s Poker Network – 17.8% (23.5%)
Playtech/iPoker – (SNAI, Sisal, Titanbet.it, Eurobet.it and others) – 15.8% (13.4%)
Ongame (including Gioco Digitale.it, bwin.it) – 13% (11.2%)
Gioco Online Italia – 5% (-)

Tournaments – leading rooms/networks**

PokerStars.it – 44.2% (38.4%)
Ongame (including Gioco Digitale.it and bwin.it) 13.3% (15.2%)
Playtech/iPoker – (SNAI, Sisal, Titanbet.it, Eurobet.it, Cogetech and others) – 13.2% (12.9%)
Microgame/People’s Network – 12.2% (17.8%)
Lottomatica/Totosi.it – 11.3% (11.1%)

*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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