Italians wagered €70.3bn on all forms of gambling between January and October last year, 13% up on the total spent in the comparable period in 2011, according to new figures from Italian regulator AAMS.
The rise was down to the launch of new online games in July 2011 and the installation of nearly 15,000 additional video lottery terminals (VLTs) in the intervening period, which provided favourable comparatives.
Italian spend on the new online games introduced from July 2011 – cash poker and casino table games – was up more than 174% year-on-year to €10.6bn in the 10 months to the end of October 2012.
But despite the increased overall expenditure, gross gaming revenue – that is the difference between total amounts wagered and what was returned in winnings to the players – actually fell 5% to €14bn from €14.7bn as the payout ratio, or the percentage of bets returned to Italian punters as winnings, rose from 76.4% to 80%.
Further, the other established betting and gaming verticals, without the distorting effect of new games, products or channels to provide favourable prior year comparatives, were all hit by reduced wagering, as the tough economic climate took its toll on Italians’ leisure spend.
Italian wagering on sports betting across all offline and remote channels fell 1.3% to €3.2bn, while wagering on online skill games including tournament poker was down 48% to €1.06bn, also impacted by the cannibalising effect of the cash poker launch. Bingo spend across all channels fell 10% to €1.54bn, while betting on horse racing tumbled 27% to €844m.
However, despite this weakening underlying performance, the regulated Italian market remains firmly on track to exceed the record €79.8bn wagered in 2011, particularly following the injection of revenues from online slot games from early December 2012.
Many of Europe’s leading online gambling companies were among the 53 operators authorised to offer online slots in the dot.it market from 3 December, including 888, bwin.party, Paddy Power, William Hill, as well as casino specialists such as 32Red. Local incumbent Lottomatica commanded more than 25% of the casino table games market prior to the slots launch.
Article written by Stephen Carter