A Closer Look At Online Poker In Italy

Italians “Love” and “Exalt” poker and will take any opportunity to “Play” and “Show off” their skills. However, the Italian government puts a damper on all citizen efforts by limiting the available poker game options by inducing strict gambling legislation. Other limiting elements include fewer establishments, bans on and the absence of offshore sites for citizens, and an increase in mafia-based gambling games.

Italians still find ways to remain relevant within the poker gaming field, and the most likely options remaining are governed by AAMS / ADM. Online sites willing to penetrate the Italian market require a local license to operate. However, many don’t want to take the risk. So is this the end, or is there more to online poker in Italy?

An Exciting Origin

Poker has one of the wealthiest gambling histories in Italy. Many associate the exciting game and the skill developed with the Romans, who many describe as “Epitome poker bettors!” Records indicate that Romans established gambling in all sports, including races in the fields and battles in the arena and dices within the palaces, and many more. What further exacerbated the situation with a deviation from the standard catholic and Christian rule was “Pope John XII.” The Holy Father was not only one of the best and avid gamblers of his time, but many considered him a promoter and, thus, the status of poker in the country.

The government never left behind, decided to master the gambling arena by establishing the “The Ridotto” back in 1678. Historians will tell you that it’s the oldest establishment where individuals were allowed to come in, play and gamble during popular Italian festivals. The form of poker played then came from the French “Poque,” and Italians consumed the new version with much enthusiasm. The break of World War One brought in the American version of poker, adding to the variety with titles such as Omaha.

The Storm and The Rise

Poker popularity in the country didn’t hinder governing authorities from inducing much higher penalties for legislation defaulters and increasing bans over a more extended period. However, criminal organizations in the country kept the game in the market. It was still a difficult moment as the government also induced heavy taxes on any resultant winnings.

The government provided only 37 physical casinos for the whole Italian population, estimated to have over 20% gamblers and representing around 2% of the entire world population. So the numbers would not match, leading to major frustrations amongst the citizens. But “The Storm” came, and “Chris Moneymaker,” a famous American accountant, became a household name for poker fans after bagging the World Series tournament poker wins estimated at millions!

It created a gaming frenzy, poker rooms erupted in every corner of the country, players burgeoned, and the government controls flailed and failed. However, that wasn’t the end as the government proceeded to make reforms, and in 2009, online poker became legit, classified as “Game of Skill,” and allowed for Italian citizens. Also the popular online slot machines got green light which lead to sites such as and many others.

Reasons Behind the Bans

Many fail to grasp that poker is banned for Italian citizens, and the government had significant reasons behind the bans. The bans against offshore accounts exist today, with the governing body AAMS or the Autonomous Administration of State Monopoly executing them. However, the body recently changed to Agenzia de la Dogne an dei Monopoli or the ADM. The body has a list of over 4,000 offshore sites on their blocklist, awaiting their penalties for illegal operations in the country.

The ADM insists on strict regulations as Italians suffer from problem gambling. Statistics indicate that 8% of Italian gamblers suffer from addiction and problem gambling. The number suggests over 800,000 individuals, which is not only unfortunate but also devastating for a country. The ADM has no plans to reduce the levies suffered by operators or players to mitigate problem gambling and earn revenue. The numbers will remain at 40% and 20% consecutively.

Poker Still Lights The Way

Worldwide statistics show that poker had a drop in players and revenue due to stricter gaming regulations, increased bans, and above all, heavy taxes imposed. However, in Italy, the game persists, and online games are refilling the vacuum. Pokerstars, a gambling entity in Italy, remains at the top in providing cash-based games with 45%. Other companies share around 23%, according to Statista. In addition, significant establishments like Sisal and New Gioco keep the poker game running hot.

Italians still partake in popular tours, including the Italian Poker Tour, a live poker gaming event where individuals from all over the country participate. In addition, individuals are taking the step and registering for international tournaments, including the European Poker Tour, which is a lifetime of poker gaming opportunities or the World Series of Poker. As a result, new names are popping up, or you can drop the most reputable, including Max Pescatori, popularly known as the “Italian Pirate.”

The future is exceptionally bright as most restrictions fade, leaving the arena free from all interested players. Better access for players and business entities will lead to an increase in revenue and potential earnings from this “Game of skill!”




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