Italy’s sports betting sector saw a rare decline during October for both retail and online offerings.
The gaming regulator’s figures show that total revenues from sports betting fell by 26% in October 2018 from the same month in 2017. The exact revenue figure was £116m ($151m). Online revenues decreased by 21.2% to £50m ($65m) and land-based revenues declined by 29% to £67m ($87m).
What is the reason?
Some people say that this sharp decline is only due to results that went the way of the bettors in Italian football during the month. There was an 87.2% payout to punters, which somewhat supports this idea.
Despite a poor October, the sports betting sector is still performing better this year than in 2017. Revenues have totaled more than £1.04bn ($1.36bn) came in, compared to £848m ($1.106bn) for the same period in 2017.
Bet365 was the leader in online sportsbooks, with almost 16% of the entire online market. In second place was Planetwin365, with a share of 15.6%, and Snaitech was in third place, with a 10.1% share.
Goldbet-Gamenet-Intralot was the leader in retail revenues, with a 21.4% share. Snaitech was in second position, with a 13.8% share, and GVC’s Eurobet was in third place, with almost 12% of the market.
Virtual betting revenues are up almost 19% over the same period in 2017. Online casinos saw revenue rises of 24% during October, with a take of £57m ($74m). Online poker sites, however, did struggle during October.
What is the government’s stance?
Some commentators have been forecasting declines in the Italian gambling sector as a result of the government’s anti-gambling stance. A coalition got into power in early-2018 and quickly set about cracking down on the sector.
One of the main moves was to ban gambling-related advertising in the country. This means that operators have to find other ways to attract new players. They can no longer advertise online or through television as they used to be able to do.
As part of this ban, gambling-related sponsorships of sports teams are no longer allowed. This move was met with a loud outcry because many teams rely on these sponsorships to survive.
Gambling companies are popular sponsors for soccer teams in particular, since many of them struggle to meet the relevant financial fair play rules if they lose these sponsors. The ban on gambling ads in Italy goes into effect on the first day of 2019. The ban on sponsorships will not go into effect until May 2019 to give teams some time to look for new sponsors.
Many people believe that the ban will bring a decline in gambling revenues because it will be a lot harder for these operators to attract new players. Others think that there will be little effect on the levels of problem gambling in the country.
Recent gambling trends
A recent survey by the health agency Istituto Superiore della Sanita looked at gambling activity in Italy.
The survey was commissioned by the national gambling regulator, the AAMS. More than 12,000 adults took part in the survey, and there were some interesting results.
About 36% of the population (18.4 million people) gambles at least once a year. This places Italy fifth in Europe for this measure.
Of the 18 million people, 13 million see themselves as social gamblers. Another 2 million are seen as having a low risk of turning into a problem gambler. About 1.4 million people are at moderate risk and about 1.5 million are problem gamblers.
The age range most common among problem gamblers is between 55 and 64 years old. Their favorite activities are virtual betting, slots, and video lottery terminals.
These are all land-based activities in the country. Asked about the upcoming ad ban, 80.7% of the respondents said that gambling ads play no part on their desire to gamble.
There are parties already fighting back against the upcoming ban. The well-known mobile casino LeoVegas is challenging this ban in court, hoping that the European Union authorities will deem the ban to be unjust.
It is certainly a turbulent time in the Italy gambling sector. Revenues are falling, and the government is looking to crack down further on the gambling sector.