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Italy Curbs Poker Room Expansion

Italian regulator AAMS has scrapped proposals to open 1,000 brick-and-mortar poker rooms as the nation’s gambling market continues its decline.

While online slots were launched late last month, the introduction of new gaming products will be put on hold, with the AAMS stressing the need for consolidation after years of expansion amongst product verticals.

“After years of expansion, it is the time to put a brake on the launch of new games,” said Roberto Fanelli, the regulatory body’s director of gaming.

“Now it is time to reflect, and it is necessary to look at those products that are experiencing difficulties and speed up the adoption of measures that will support those sectors that are the weakest.”

Despite initial legislation that allowed for a bid process for 1,000 poker rooms, Italian lawmakers now say there will be “neither one nor one thousand.”

Revenues from online gambling have contracted. In October, AAMS published its first year-over-year comparative review of the gaming market since cash games were rolled out in July 2011.

Total revenues from cash games and tournaments came in at €23.4 million in August 2012, down 31% from the €33.8 million generated during the same period last year. The decline has prompted AAMS to discuss pooling liquidity with its regulatory counterparts in France and Spain.

Italy also added 57 websites to the nation’s growing list of blacklisted sites in October. It’s hardly been effective, though, as Italian gamblers continue to play on unlicensed sites, which account for as much as 50% of the total market, according to some estimates.

The Remote Gambling Association, the largest trade association in the industry, has argued that licensed operators will continue to struggle to compete with unlicensed sites until changes are made to the nation’s tax structure. Like with many dot country regimes (most notably France), high taxes and waning liquidity have crippled the Italian market.


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