Italy’s gambling rules are now in line with the rest of the European Union, making almost all types of gaming legal across the country. However, until recently, Italy’s laws governing online gambling were extremely restrictive, barring many forms of gambling based on chance.
Even though the region has opened up in recent years, in part due to pressure from the EU, some gambling businesses are on the point of dropping out since doing business in the country is unviable due to excessively high taxes. Keep reading to get the full scoop on Italy’s gambling laws.
Casino Games and Their Regulatory Status
Land-based gambling has been legal in Italy since 1948, with the main gambling law being Legislative Decree no. 496, which has been changed multiple times since its original passing.
It wasn’t until 2006 that Italy legalized some forms of online gambling, and even then, only a narrow subset of games of chance were allowed. The EU criticized Italy for its exclusive laws, which made it impossible for legal operators in other EU countries to accept Italian players.
Legislation was changed to make the country compliant with EU requirements, allowing licensed businesses to take on Italian customers. Over time, many types of gambling were decriminalized and eventually made available through licensed operators.
Offline and internet gambling establishments in the country are licensed and regulated by the ADM (Amministrazione Autonoma dei Monopoli di Stato, Autonomous Administration of State Monopolies). Let’s examine the many kinds of games regulated in Italy’s casinos.
Land-based casinos are relatively scarce in Italy, with only five venues serving the country’s 60 million+ residents and numerous tourists, compared to the number of businesses operating in other European countries. Since the 1930s, if a business wanted to run one of these in Italy, they could do so legally.
Although there aren’t any casinos in the country, there are instead hundreds of slots halls with a combined total of approximately 400,000 slot machines, or 100 times as many as there are in casinos.
Since 2006, Italian law has allowed for the operation of licensed online casinos that are open to residents of the country. ISPs in Italy will not let you reach their customers if you aren’t licensed to do so.
Although poker is viewed as a game of skill rather than chance in Italy, it is still subject to the country’s licensing regulations. There are about 30 poker clubs in operation across the country where people can play the game. Additionally, Italian law recognizes the legitimacy of video poker.
internet poker, like internet casinos, has been legal in Italy since 2006, and a small number of regulated sites currently take wagers from Italian residents.
The game now known as bingo can be traced back to Italy in the sixteenth century, where it was first created. In 2000, bingo was legalized and regulated, and the first bingo hall opened the following year in Treviso. There are over 250 licensed bingo halls in Italy, demonstrating the game’s widespread popularity there.
Since 2006, online bingo gambling has also been legalized and regulated in Italy. Italians may play online bingo from a number of reputable sites.
Italy is unique in that it hosts multiple lotteries rather than a single national lottery. The Gioco del Lotto, Italy’s most popular lottery, claims to have invented the game in the 16th century, and lotteries have been allowed in the country since 1955.
Since 2011, Italians have been able to play online lottery games for real money. Lottoitalia is an online resource for Italians to enter and purchase lottery tickets and scratchcards for a variety of lotteries.
Online social casinos, in which users can play simulated casino games for free but also purchase additional in-game currency with real money, are technically considered forms of gambling and are therefore illegal in Italy.
In light of the possible harm that might come from using loot boxes, virtual things of perceived worth, and skin gambling, these topics are now contentious in Italy. Future gambling legislation is likely to outlaw or at least heavily regulate such operations.
Sports Gambling in Italy – The Law
Since 1948, Italian law has required licensed sportsbooks and betting parlors to be open for business. Sports betting, especially on football, generates a lot of revenue for bookies all throughout Italy. Horse racing is another prominent Italian pleasure, with its betting market governed independently.
Legalization of online sports betting occurred in 2007, although licenses weren’t awarded until 2010. Sports betting in Italy includes both traditional wagering and novel forms like fantasy sports and virtual sports.
As part of the country’s efforts to make up for lost revenue in other sectors owing to the Covid-19 outbreak, sports betting providers, both online and offline, were penalized with an additional 0.5% tax on turnover, prompting some to leave the market.
Maximum Gambling Age Set at 21
In Italy, gambling is restricted to persons who are at least 18 years old. Land-based casinos and slot machine arcades typically request photo identification from patrons in order to verify their age.
Italy’s gambling tax regulations are among the world’s harshest, with operators facing potentially bankrupting levies on their gross revenues or turnover.
The lowest tax rates apply to bingo halls (11% of gross income), lottery machines (6.75%), and land-based casinos (0.5%). Offline bookmakers pay 18%, virtual/fantasy sports betting 22%, and online sports betting sites 24% of gross profits; online casinos and bingo sites pay 25% of gross profits; horse racing betting pays 43% and online horse racing betting pays 45% of gross gaming revenue.
Considering that Italy has one of the highest rates of corporate tax and that certain online gambling sites also have to pay the additional 0.5% Covid-19 recovery tax, the effective tax rate for these enterprises is well over 100%, making their continued existence untenable for some.
Players, on the other hand, don’t have to pay taxes on winnings from legal operators.
The Evolution of Italy’s Gambling Laws
Many people in ancient Rome gambled on games like a precursor to modern Baccarat and dice games because it was legal to do so.
Since its inception more than 500 years ago, Italy’s national lottery, once known as Lo Giuoco del Lotto D’Italia and now simply called Gioco del Lotto, has been one of the most popular forms of gambling in the country.
In 1638, the Ridotto in Venice was mentioned in a document as the first Italian gambling house to be documented. After its relocation in the 18th century, the Ridotto became known as the Casino di Venezia.
Italy was a collection of independent states with varying gambling laws until the unification of the country in 1861. The first nationwide gambling laws were enacted in 1861. But it wasn’t until the 1930s that the country had any kind of regulatory supervision in place, and so several regulated gambling institutions and the country’s first true casinos opened their doors.
Legislative Decree no. 496 was enacted in 1948 and modernized the legal framework governing gambling and other games of chance. Legalization of some forms of online gambling didn’t occur until 2006, and even then it was only a small portion of the industry.
The most important thing to remember about Italian gambling law is that gambling in general is perfectly allowed in the country. Serving Italian customers requires a valid license.
The ADM (Amministrazione Autonoma dei Monopoli di Stato) authorizes the provision of online casino slot machines, table games, live dealer games, bingo, poker, sports betting, virtual sports betting, fantasy sports betting, and horse racing betting through the issuance of a license.
The government is reportedly considering cracking down on loot boxes, social gaming, and skin gambling as potential sources of underage gambling.
Italy has fewer gambling operators than many other EU nations and may even struggle to preserve the ones it presently has unless modifications are made to the combination of relatively high tax rates and historically exclusive license restrictions.