The online poker industry in Italy, Spain and France has been in a steady decline during the last 24 months as strict online poker laws have discouraged online poker players from joining the system.
Italian legislators recently announced that they are contemplating banning all forms of online poker advertising, even though the legalized online poker market in Italy is in stagnation mode. This news will not go down well the online poker companies in Italy as they rely heavily on advertising to promote their brand and increase online poker traffic.
Italy’s online poker market has suffered due to the high tax laws imposed on online poker players, who have preferred to take risks and play at illegal poker websites where there are no taxes, higher payouts and better competition. These illegal online poker websites do a lot more business than the legalized online poker websites in Italy and gaming regulators in Italy have not been able to put a stop to the underground online poker industry.
The Italian Senate is in the process of debating the new proposal to ban online poker advertising and will most likely make a decision before the end of this year. Should the ban be enforced, the legalized online poker industry in Italy will experience a bigger slump and there is a strong possibility that illegal poker websites will receive an influx of new poker players.
In a statement, Valérie Peano, a gambling lawyer at EGLA said Should the bill pass as it is, the future of any form of commercial communications to promote the gambling services of a licensed operator in Italy would be heavily compromised and this would damage especially the igaming sector. Hopefully, operators and relevant gambling associations will be ready to complain and push the EU Commission for an infringement procedure towards Italy for noncompliance with the EU legislation.”
There have been talks in the past of creating a cross country online poker network that would allow countries like Italy, Spain and France to combine their online poker player databases and allow players to compete against each other, thereby strengthening the overall online poker market in these countries and helping online poker websites to survive. These talks are yet to materialize but if the ban on online poker advertising gets implemented, then there is a strong possibility that the online poker market in Italy might collapse completely.