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PokerStars Dominates Italian Online Market As Regulator Attacks Illegal Operators

PokerStars Dominates in Italy

According to the latest numbers issued by Italy's online gambling regulator, the Customs and Monopoly Agency (formerly known as AAMS), PokerStars Italy continues to dominate the country's ring-fenced online poker market.

In March 2015, the AAMS-licensed version of the world's biggest poker site confirmed its leadership by bringing home 70 percent of the country's total tournament poker revenues and almost 54 percent of the total cash-game revenues.

During the third month of 2015, however, the overall numbers showed a continuation of the negative trend that Italy's online poker industry has been suffering since the creation of the ring-fenced market. In the month of March, the difference between the money spent by Italy's poker players in cash games and their winnings amounted to €8.1 million, a number that is 24.5 percent lower than in March 2014.

Things went slightly better in tournament poker, where the €66 million spent during March 2015 were in line with what was spent one year ago. This number also marked a slight increase compared to February this year.

PokerStars Italy's remarkable performance is also highlighted by PokerScout, which ranks as the sixth poker network worldwide, placing it ahead of other international sites such as Full Tilt, partypoker, and Georgia's favorite poker room, Adjarabet.

PokerScout also shows that the peak in the daily average cash-game players at during March was of 1,780, a number that is nearly 100 players smaller than in 2014, but which is also 202 percent larger than in the rest of the Italian market.

To put things in perspective, Italy's second biggest operator, Lottomatica, managed to put together revenues of €27 million from ring games and €4.9 million for tournaments during March, which account for 17 percent and 8.9 percent of the revenues earned by PokerStars during the same month, respectively.

Italian Regulator Attacks Gray Operators

During the past years, Italy's authorities have never made a mystery of the fact that the availability of illegal operators to Italian players has been one of the key factors in the decline of the country's legal online poker industry.

Obliged to comply with a set of norms that impose costly requirements, high taxes, and strict rules on the advertising of their services, the operators that decided to go the legal way have often not been able to match the offer of international gaming providers that illegally kept their doors open to Italian players.

As reported by Italy's news agency Agimeg, however, the country's police have decided to increase their efforts in blocking illegal sites and in making sure that users who play using an Italy-based Internet Service Provider do not get access to unlicensed websites.

"During the first four months of 2015, the police have checked 2,227 online gaming sites and reported 2,210 irregular ones to the country's gambling authority," the representative from Italy's Ministry of Internal Affairs Alessandra Belardini explained during a public seminar on compulsive gambling. "In 2014, the police have monitored a total of 55,544 gaming sites, reporting 49,849 of them to the authority."

Belardini also explained that once the irregular sites are found, the authorities give them 30 days to modify their offerings and comply with the Italian regulation.

If the changes are not adopted once the 30-day window comes to an end, the providers are then issued administrative sanctions while their sites are blocked from Italian IPs.

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