Italy offers their citizens one of the most lax gaming markets for online and land-based gambling to take place. They have a long history of gambling that dates to the Roman Empire, during the time of Ludus Duodecim Scriptorum, a popular game very similar to backgammon. Though gambling has always been a part of the nation, it wasn’t until the past 40 years that Italian gambling has developed an industry of its own. Among the most popular betting games in Italy, one can place sports bets and take part in lotteries at Italian casinos and cafes. Italy holds the oldest casino in the world, the Casino di Venezia, which was built in 1963.
Italian Criminal Law finds gambling of any form illegal. However, the law splits hairs pretty finely between games of luck and games of skill. There are a number of gambling activities that fall under the legal side of the law, including lotteries and sports betting. In 2006, three amendments opened the gambling market by legislating real-money betting exchanges and skill games, as well as allowing operators from the EU and EFTA countries to enter the Italian gambling market. The final amendment that liberalized the market was when the government opened new license tenders for online betting organizations, giving online operators the opportunity to offer legal services to their clients. The Finance Act of 2007 made card games of skill legal as long as they were played in tournaments.
In March of 2010, foreign gambling companies were allowed to release real money online gaming, as long as they had an Italian license. The licenses covered a wide variety of games, including tournament and solitaire games, cash poker, skill games and casino games. In 2011, the Comunitaria decree regulated cash poker games and casino games. It brought with it a new tax requirement, which applied a flat 20% rate to all the recently legalized games. It also required that operator’s payback at least 90% of funds citizens wagered on games in the form of winnings.
When online gambling first came out, the first reaction the Italian government had was to make it illegal, completely prohibiting citizens from partaking in the games. However, by 2007, they had realized that the market was thriving, and they wanted to involve themselves in it. The decree of Liberation opened the market to online gambling in Italy, and since then, thousands of licenses have been issued to operators who wanted to market to Italians. Italian online casino sites allow their customers to converse widely in Italian, pay and play in Euros, and use payment methods primarily found in Italy, such as credit or debit cards.
Gambling is an integral part to Italy’s revenues, and it is estimated that 42 billion euros were wagered on gambling in 2007 alone. With foreign and local gaming sites available, Italian citizens have a wide variety of options to choose from with their gaming abilities, site features, payment methods, game types and competition. There are few types of gambling that are not permitted in Italy.