The Italian gambling regulatory body AAMS has published its online gambling report for 2012, according to which Italian players are spending 37 percent less on online poker tournaments and 34 percent less on poker cash games.

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The Italian government began permitting poker cash games only in July 2011. The AAMS reached the above conclusion by making a comparative study between gambling activities during the last five months of the last two years.

According to the regulatory body, Italian poker players stopped spending on poker tournaments after cash games were introduced. The decline in the amount spent on cash poker games was because interest in poker declined all over the world.

The AAMS also noted that, although Italian players appeared to lose interest in poker, they did not stop playing other regulated casino games. The regulatory body noted that Italians spent 1.9% more on other regulated forms of gambling, especially after slots were introduced in Dec 2012. Reportedly, the people of Italy are fond of playing slots, which were once available only at unregulated online casinos.

According to the gambling laws of Italy, all AAMS approved sites have to pay 20 percent tax on revenue generated by gambling activities. Besides, only Italian players are allowed to play at these sites. AAMS has not considered factors such as segregated player pool and heavy taxation as responsible for the lack of interest in poker.

On the other hand, the regulatory body is proud of its tax system and states that “it ensures gambling payouts in the regulated sector are competitive with those in unregulated sites.” AAMS has concluded its report by stating, “A different [taxation] model would necessarily entail payouts to be lowered and result in a form of ‘capital flight’ of players to sites unauthorized in Italy although legitimate in other jurisdictions.”

The poker gaming environment in Italy violates EU norms in that it is quite isolated, with player liquidity being the major issue. Italian regulators are attempting to rectify this by planning to share player pools with  neighboring countries such as Spain and France.

According to PokerScout, PokerStars enjoys 43 percent of the Italian poker market, which happens to be the lion’s share. Moreover, this percentage hasn’t fallen during the past year. The other poker networks that have maintained consistent liquidity in the Italian market during the past year are GTECH G2 sites TotoSi and Lottomatica (17%), iPoker (16%), and Ongame (10%).

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