Italy now Europe's largest online poker market

14 March 2012

MALTA -- (PRESS RELEASE) -- In the burgeoning European online casino market, Italy has emerged as the continent's biggest online poker player, say The online casino and online slots site reports that Italy's online poker sector surpassed that of all other EU countries for the first time in 2010. In figures published by leading gaming data specialist H2 Capital, the UK led the European online poker market until 2009, with Italy's market growing substantially to surpass UK figures in 2010.

One of the first major European countries to officially legalize and regulate online poker, online casino and online slots, initially Italians were only permitted to play tournament poker online. This all changed in July 2011 when laws were reformed to allow Italians to play real cash poker online for the first time. The H2 Capital report projects substantial year-on-year growth in the Italian online poker market into 2014 as a result.

Although the online poker market is growing, Video Lottery Terminals remain the biggest form of gaming activity in Italy by a long margin. According to a 2010 MAG Consulenti Associati study, VLTs accounted for almost half of Italy's total gaming revenues in the first half of 2010, and the latest figures from the Amministrazione Autonoma dei Monopoli de Stato (AAMS) show that VLTs continue to be the Italian's favourite form of gaming.

Official figures from the Norwegian Gambling Commission confirm that online poker is also the biggest form of online casino gaming in Norway, accounting for 28% of online casino gaming activity among players surveyed, with 27% preferring sportsbooks and 7% preferring other online casino games.

Online poker also accounts for a substantial portion of the American market, providing 19% of US online casino gaming revenue in 2010. In US land-based casinos however, slots continue to dominate, with over 800,000 slot machines across the country, slots now account for 70% of US casino floor share.

When it comes to table games however, baccarat has recently emerged as the US frontrunner, overtaking blackjack in 2009 to become the leading game in Nevada for the first time. Baccarat has now surpassed blackjack in terms of revenue in Las Vegas casinos, accounting for almost 60% of MGM Grand's table games revenue in 2011. Debra Nutton, senior vice president at MGM Grand explains:

"For us to make money in gaming today without baccarat is almost impossible."

In contrast to the US market, the emerging Asian casino market shows that Asian players prefer table games to slots by a striking margin. Figures covering the first quarter of 2008 show that while slots accounted for 70% of all gaming revenue in Nevada, they accounted for just 4.5% of revenue in China's booming casino town of Macau. Within the Chinese table game sector, baccarat is by far the leading game, with baccarat revenue beating blackjack revenue by a factor of 44 in Macau in 2008.

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