The modern gaming market began in Italy in 1946 when Sisal proposed a football pool (known today as Totocalcio). Just two years later Sisal invented Totip, a form of betting based on the outcome of horse races.
The lottery industry in Italy has emerged as the dominant sector for Italian betting and gaming. Italy spends more on lottery products in absolute terms than any other nation in Europe, even though is only the fourth largest European nation in terms of GDP. Lotto, Italy’s most popular game, had total turnover (gross sales) of €7 billion in 2003. Italy’s two leading lotto companies are among the top five world lotto organizations in sales rank, and Lottomatica is the world’s largest.
The majority of Italian toto games, which are also considered as a lottery in Italy, are provided by CONI. They are described in the betting section of this report.
Casinos in Italy are under the management of local government bodies (provinces and municipalities), based on the legislative acts that established each casino and under the control of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. Italy has four casinos: Casino de la Vallee located in Saint Vincent; Casino Municipale di Campione d’Italia in Campoine; Casino Municipale di Sanremo in San Remo; and Casino Municipale di Venezia in Venice (which actually has two locations: one in Venice and the other on the mainland. Furthermore, the Venice casino has two locations: one for summer and one for winter.) The latter three are operated by the state gaming company Administrazione Autonoma Dei Monopoli Di Stato The casinos exist as the result of a loophole in the Criminal Code, which forbids casino gambling. The Casino de la Vallee is the largest with 95 tables and over 500 gaming machines. It attracts in excess of 1.2 million customers per annum.
Machine Gambling Outside Casinos
In 2002, the Italian Parliament approved the legalisation of Amusement with Prize machines (AWPs) for the first time. By 2005, the total number of AWP pay out machines in Italy was 172,000, which represents an increase from 130,000 AWPs in 2004. The projected rate of growth this sector is about 3%. The total number of non-pay out machines decreased to 176,000 (Cranes, videogames, Pinballs and touch screens) in 2005, in comparison with about 238,500 machines in 2004.
During 1998 the Italian Government offered 2,000 betting licenses for auction. Bookmakers were required to guarantee a sum in tax. The licenses were awarded to approximately 800 operators.
At the peak around 2000, there were approximately 1,350 betting agents operating in Italy. By 2000 SNAI, Italy’s largest publicly quoted betting and gaming company, worked with 850 of the 1,230 outlets and had 69% of the market share in terms of turnover. (Source: GBGC Report)
The SNAI group offers betting agents a service where bookmakers who subscribe receive live pictures of sports as well as odds compilation service, IT bet acceptance, and risk management. During 2001, SNAI developed a system to accept bets by Internet, television and telephone for the Italian betting shop market.
The largest nation-wide chain of betting shops in Italy is Match Point, owned by Sisal. The Match Point chain is operated under a single license. During 2003 the Match Point shops generated a handle of approximately €327m and returned 70% of this to customers as winnings, thus generating over €98m in GGRs.
Typically, the average tax on betting is around 15% of the turnover, with some operators paying up to 16%. This system of taxation is forcing a considerable number of betting agents out of business. Following lobbying from the agents, the Italian Government abolished the payment to CONI (Italian National Olympic Committee) in 2003.
In Italy the taxation of sports betting games, that are considered to be lotteries, varies depending on sales. During 2002 the tax rates were 31% for football pools and 6% for Sports Betting. During 2003 the corresponding rates were 30% and 7% respectively.
There are annual fees of €500 expressly required for operation for one sales point of concorsi pronostici and totalisator betting games.
The Ministry of Public Revenue instituted bingo in 2000 with Decree No. 29, although even prior to the legislation there were 420 bingo parlors located across Italy. Operation of the first legal halls commenced during the following year and there are now approximately 320 open for business.
Lottomatica established Bingo Plus in 2003. It operates with 13 bingo halls located in the Central North area of Italy. (Source: GBGC Report)
Media Gambling Services
Digital TV channel Stream Lotto offer statistics and detailed information and a number of interactive games designed to extend the appeal of Lotto to a wider audience, though as yet no games are available to be played via these channels.
Sales Promotional Gambling
Prize competitions connected with promotional sales fall under the responsibility of the ministry of Production Activities, with AAMS intervening by way of partial monitoring to ensure that the government monopoly of the gaming sector is preserved.
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