Italy has set itself ahead in the process of establishing guidelines for online gambling activities around the world. The Italian online gaming market is the biggest in Europe and continues to expand as the Italian government takes measures to tax and regulate online gaming. In 2009, the Italian online gaming market was worth €3.4 billion, and in 2010 it went up to €4.8 billion.

Revenues are expected to continue to rise this year and the market will grow even more as a result of two big changes that were implemented for 2011. In the past, the only online gambling activity that was permitted in Italy was poker tournaments. That means that Italians have been restricted to poker tournaments and cannot play cash games. Online casino also had an outright ban in the country, but still Italy came to be the largest online gaming market in all of Europe.

The new legislation will allow the introduction of cash games in Italy, Stefano Acciavatti of Trutpartners explained the expected boost to the market, “Even if game accounts and revenues for poker increased in 2010 with respect to 2009, during the last four to five months of last year there were clear signs of stabilization. Game sessions, tournaments and amount of money spent per each game were down in number and volume compared to the comparable period in 2009,” he said.

The addition of poker cash games is expected to add €400 million to margins for this year. The legislation will kick in during March 2011, and an online casino bill will be implemented in the summer. The expectations are great for the online gaming industry in Italy and operators are already thinking of ways to enter the market to get a piece of what seems will be a tasty pie.