10/6/2012 : BAD NEWS ON ITALIAN ONLINE POKER
 
Latest numbers from regulator AAMS show a serious year-on-year decline
 
Annual comparative numbers issued by Italy's online gambling regulator AAMS Friday have industry analysts concerned at an apparent decline of almost 31 percent between August this year and August 2011.
 
Italian poker cash games were approved in July last year with great expectations, and the latest numbers therefore represent the first year-on-year overall assessment; unfortunately it is not an encouraging picture.
 
The dedicated Italian market in cash games and tournaments generated Euro 33.8 million in August 2011, but by comparison August 2012 only delivered Euro 23.4 million – a 30.7 percent slide.
 
The reasons for such a significant decline are the subject of speculation, with analysts suggesting that the principal causes are probably:
 
* Too restricted a [ring-fenced] market, reducing player liquidity
 
* Limited innovation and a restricted number of game choices
 
* Flowing from the above, smaller and less player-attractive prize pools
 
* Discouragingly high taxation
 
These factors are thought to militate against a stronger dedicated Italian market, and may be the reason that the AAMS is seeking closer ties with its Spanish counterpart and perhaps a pooling of the Italian and Spanish player potential

Ring games suffered most in the current assessment, with revenues declining 41 percent to Euro 14.2 million. Tournament revenues fared significantly better, but were still reducd by 5.1 percent to Euro 9.1 million and exacerbated a 21 percent drop during July and August as a result of the quiet season and competition from other poker products launched in Italy.
 
Pokerstars continues to lead the field in Italy, and appears to have increased its market share in ring games to around 32.2 percent – a rise of over 5 percent from June – and to 44 percent in tournament action.
 
The performance of rival People Player Network owned by Microgame would have disappointed its investors, with cash game revenues falling 17.8 percent or just over 2 percent from July and by 23.5 percent compared to August last year, and tournament revenues down 12.2 percent on July and 17.8 percent down compared with August last year.
 
The Italian version of Playtech's iPoker Network grew its cash game market share to around 15.8 percent, whilst it held 13.2 percent of tournament market share, an gain of just under 2 percent.
 
Lottomatica holds 12.8 percent of cash game market share and 11.3 percent in tournament action.
 
Smaller, mainly single digit shares in the market are held by other companies including Gioco Digitale, SNAI, Sisal, La Multipla and the recently sold-off Ongame network The latter's position will undoubtedly change with the new ownership and player migration that will probably follow this development.