Gambling in Italy has existed for centuries. Gambling in the country dates back to the days of the Roman Empire. Baccarat originated in Italy in the 15th century. Bingo is of Italian origin, too. Historians say that in 1638, the first gambling house (Ridotto) was opened in Venice (https://www.gambling.net/history/). Such gambling clubs where Venetian nobles could enjoy gambling privately were called 'cazinos', so the word 'casino' itself is of Italian origin. Later, casinos started to appear all over continental Europe.
Italy has come a long way from totally prohibiting all gambling activities to legalizing some of them under certain conditions. In the 1900s, gambling started officially being legalized by the State. Italy was one of the first EU member states to legalize, license, and regulate online gambling.
According to Agenzia Dogane Monopoli’s Annual Report, the country’s gambling market turnover in 2018 amounted to nearly EUR 107 million with the highest amount of money spent on video-lottery terminals (VLTs).
The gambling regulatory body, the Customs and Monopolies Agency (Agenzia Dogane Monopoli, or ADM) is granted the power to issue licenses and regulates the gambling sector in Italy.
The Comunitaria Decree (February 2011) is considered to be a real breakthrough for the gambling industry in Italy. It provides a regulation for online poker and playing in an online casino. Balduzzi Decree (September 2012) obliges operators to pay back at least 90% of the wagered money in the form of winnings (https://www.adm.gov.it/portale/it/web/guest/monopoli/giochi/giochi_abilita/eventi-simulati-note-info).
Land Based Gambling
Such forms of land-based gambling as casinos, gaming machines and VLTs, sports and horserace betting, bingo, lotto and lotteries are allowed in Italy. The legislation differentiates three types of gaming machines which can be installed in different premises: licensed commercial premises and retail outlets (bars and restaurants, coffee houses, tobacco shops, private clubs, shopping malls, and gaming arcades) and specialized gambling premises (slot halls, betting shops, and bingo halls).
Four land-based legal casinos operate in four Italian cities nowadays. Italian casinos provide their guests with all classic table games, such as roulette, blackjack, Punto Banco, baccarat, and poker as well as slot machines. Trente et Quarante (Thirty and Forty) dating back to the 17th century is popular among Italian citizens. The minimum gambling age in Italian casinos is 18. A valid photo ID is required.
Numerous slot halls operate across Italy. They offer their visitors various slot machines and VLTs. As specialized gambling premises, slot halls offer sophisticated modern machines which provide more entertaining gaming experience than traditional slot machines. They can pay cash prizes of up to EUR 5,000 and can award network jackpots of up to EUR 100,000. Such gaming machines can only be installed in appropriately designated and specially-equipped facilities.
The online gambling market in Italy started to be legalized in 2006 when the European Commission brought Italy to trial. It was triggered by rather strict Italian laws prohibiting legal European gambling operators to offer their online services in Italy. Now, international online operators can provide their gambling services in Italy in case they are properly licensed. Currently, more than 150 online casinos operate in the country.
Italian online casinos are allowed to offer poker (including poker tournaments) and other card games, roulette and other casino games, slots, online lotteries and bingo, sports and horserace betting as well as live betting.
ADM issues online gambling licenses. To qualify for an online gambling license, all operators are to meet certain requirements. These include financial, technical, social, and other aspects of the business. Applying for a license is subject to a fee of EUR 350,000. The number of licenses that can be issued by ADM is limited to 200.