Italy’s black market for online gambling is estimated to be worth nearly €1 billion per year: equivalent to the combined regulated online gambling revenue of 8 other EU countries. The country’s ban on gambling advertising is clearly favouring the black market and should be revised.
According to a recent report, the value of bets placed by Italian gamblers on the black market is estimated to be a staggering €25 billion per year, with €18.5 billion of this amount, or 75%, spent on unlicensed gambling websites.
Based on these figures, EGBA estimates that nearly €1 billion in online gross gaming revenue in Italy is lost to black market websites annually, equivalent to the combined regulated online gambling revenue of 8 other EU countries. What is concerning is that it means many Italian players will be betting on websites that are based outside of the EU, which do not offer them even a basic level of consumer protection.
Italy’s Customs and Monopolies Agency (ADM) has already taken action by blocking over 9800 unlicensed gambling websites this year alone. This number is already 400 more than the total blocked in 2022, highlighting the increasing scale of the problem.
The protection of customers is a key priority for EGBA and it stands against gambling websites that target the EU market but operate outside EU law and fail to provide necessary consumer safeguards for Europeans. It is crucial that the Italian authorities do more to raise awareness among Italian gamblers about the risks associated with using unlicensed platforms based outside the EU, and to signpost the licensed operators who adhere to the regulated responsible gambling practices and regulations in the country.
“The significant size of Italy’s online black market is concerning, yet it is not surprising given that Italy has one of Europe’s strictest advertising regimes for its licensed gambling companies. The country’s ban on advertising for licensed gambling operators is clearly favouring the black market. Without a sufficient level of advertising, there is no real way for Italians to tell the difference between a gambling website which is licensed in Italy – and applies the country’s consumer protection rules – and one that is not. It is evident that enforcement action against black market operators is not sufficient, and that the government needs to revise its advertising rules for gambling to ensure Italian citizens can be well-informed about the licensed websites in the country,” Maarten Haijer, Secretary General of EGBA, said.