Sports Betting Growth Slows In Italy, As New Legislation Hits Operators Hard

By Alex Smith, Last updated Feb 4, 2021

Despite showing impressive growth with their 11% increase in sports betting revenue in 2018 over 2017, Italy’s expected level of growth last year failed to live up to expectations.

In fact, previous years showed far-stronger growth, leading many to believe that the country has hit a ‘plateau’ in gambling growth.

Analysts thought that 2018 would continue previous years strong growth, but due to a number of factors that failed to materialise. Total revenues for sports betting in 2018 (in Italy) totaled around $1.5 billion.

An end-of-year report from the Agenzia delle Doganee dei Monopoli (ADM) showed that the total amount of betting revenue was $125 billion, an increase of over $1.14 billion over 2017.

It remains to be seen as to whether or not Italy will manage to turn this negative period around, and once again begin seeing growth in the sector.

Indeed, many are surprised by the findings, given that the country made a significant number of improvements over the last few years when it came to sports betting – and given the country’s crippling debt, gambling revenue was, and is a vital lifeline for the country.

While, in the past, Italy could simply devalue its own currency to make its exports far-more attractive to other countries, once they joined the euro, they’re unable to do so any longer – and that’s why the country had placed an emphasis on gambling, as it was a fantastic way for the government to raise additional taxes to help the country’s dire financial situation.

Previous governments had indeed specifically focused on making Italy a more suitable environment for sports betting operators to base themselves from, and this was drawing lots of new business – until the coalition government that came into power in spring last year decided to take a harsh approach to betting in general, looking for ways to shrink the industry.

For example, one of the first anti-gambling moves made by the coalition was a blanket ban on gambling advertisements. This applied to all operators, across all platforms, and came into force on January 1, preventing Italian residents from being showed any form of gambling-related advertising.

With advertising such an important mechanism for operators to attract new players, it’s likely we’ll see a similar effect to what is predicted to happen in the UK – the big, well-known companies will thrive, while smaller and newer operators will find the market incredibly difficult to penetrate.

Naturally, this advertising ban isn’t exclusive to Italy. Other European countries including Spain and Belgium have also been pushing towards legislation that would ban all forms of advertisements – and as you can imagine, this has angered those working within the industry.

LeoVegas, for example, announced that they were taking legal action in the hopes that European courts would deem Italy’s ban to be illegal – although only time will tell as to whether or not they’ll succeed.

Another big blow to the industry is that – as part of this advertising ban – teams, events, and stadiums are also no longer allowed to have gambling companies as sponsors. This is perhaps the biggest blow to the industry, as – like in most countries – sponsorship revenue makes up a big part of a club’s income.

With many teams already struggling with financial fair play rules, analysts see this move as potentially extremely harmful to the sports industry as a whole – and it remains to be seen as to whether or not Italy – and the sports team they possess – will manage to make it past this fairly large hurdle.

Alex Smith

Alex is a 26-year-old writer from Brighton, in the UK, and for the past 8 years, he’s worked with a number of companies, creating content for blogs, news articles, and more. While Alex has written on a wide variety of topics, his speciality is online gambling – an industry he’s both passionate about, and experienced in. Having enjoyed gambling for over 7 years, Alex is a huge fan of video slots, and cites NetEnt, Big Time Gaming, Thunderkick, and Quickspin as his favourite providers. The topics he writes on are varied, but he loves nothing more than a good old slot review (he’s written over 1,000 slot reviews in his career), and he also enjoys writing in-depth gambling guides, along with casino reviews. In his spare time, Alex enjoys playing the guitar, and is a self-proclaimed horror film buff.

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