Casino revenue in Italy was down 12.3% from November 2017. There was also a significant decline in sports betting revenues for October.
The government that came to power in Italy early in the year has enacted some anti-gambling policies. Could those policies be the reason for these decreases?
Anti-gambling Italian government
The populist Five Star Movement Party gained control through a coalition has already enacted a ban on all types of gambling advertising. They have shown their commitment to eradicating what they see as the scourge of gambling in the country.
One of the first pieces of legislation the new government pushed through was called a dignity decree. One of the main points of focus was this ban.
All gambling establishments in the country are now prohibited from advertising their offerings to residents of Italy. This, of course, does not help the fortunes of these companies. They attract most of their customers through advertising and now this is no longer an option.
The decree also includes a ban on gambling sponsorships. This means that sports teams and leagues that have gambling sponsors are going to be out of pocket until they find new sponsors.
Most of the teams have some form of gambling sponsors. Many of them are already struggling to meet UEFA’s Financial Fair Play standards as it is (AC Milan received harsh penalties for failing to do so).
Without gambling sponsorships, they have to find revenues from somewhere else. The advertising ban officially comes into force on January 1, 2019, but it is already effectively in place.
For example, Google has long since stopped gambling ads from being shown to Italians. The introduction of the sponsorship ban will not be until May 2019 to give teams time to get their affairs in order. They can use this time to try and replace these sponsors.
Why is the government so anti-gambling?
Of course, nobody is going to say that gambling is all positive. There are many negative aspects, but the pros usually outweigh the cons. The new Italian government blames gambling for a lot of problems in the country, and they point at the increase in problem gambling.
These advertising and sponsorship bans are just the beginning of the government plans. Further measures are in the works, and they also want to push other European countries to follow suit. Belgium and Spain are already looking at the possibility of curtailing gambling advertising.
There have been further crackdowns on criminal enterprises using gambling activities as part of their funding, as well as a commitment to reduce the number of gambling machines in establishments.
Some are fighting back against their bans. LeoVegas, a prominent online casino platform, is filing legal action against this ban with the European Union. They hope that the courts will rule the ban unjust.
What effect could this ban have?
The Italian economy has been struggling for a long time. The country has a serious debt problem and its industries are struggling to grow. This means that the government needs to find some new revenue sources fast.
However, they are busy putting curtailments on the gambling sector, an area that traditionally would be seen as an area where further revenue growth could be gained.
While they plan as if the ban will not decrease gambling revenues, the latest figures for October and November are not so comforting.
What are these figures?
The sports betting figures for October show total revenues falling by 26% in comparison with the same month in 2017. Some will say that punters got lucky with the results during the month while others say the decline is due to the crackdown on gambling in the country.
Casino revenues for November fell by 12.3% to $256m (£201m) from the same month in 2017. The Campione casino did close its doors in July, which is one of the reasons for the loss.
However, that casino will not get a replacement any time soon because of the government’s anti-gambling stance. Therefore, further declines year on year could be seen on a monthly basis going forward.