Italian gambling laws have always been on the prohibitive side to prevent problem gambling. The government has a strong aversion to games of chance. The number of licences granted is very limited.

Italian Gambling Laws

Italian Gambling LawsGambling history in Italy goes way back to the Roman Empire but it was not until 1638 that the first legal gambling house opened. The Government hoped to control gambling but it was only open to the rich because the stakes were too high. The first gambling house or Ridotto closed in 1774.

Some of you may know the word “casino” is of Italian origin. Following closure of the Ridotto gambling clubs became popular, they were known as casinos.

Prior to 2006, gambling in Italy was largely illegal except for sports betting and lotteries. All other forms of gambling were illegal. Legal forms of gambling were licensed and controlled by the State Monopolies Administration division of central government.


EU Involvement

During 2006 amendments to gambling laws permitted gambling under certain conditions. EU laws dictated changes to Italian gambling laws. The revised law introduced licensing to offline betting establishments and online operators, under certain conditions. Games of skill were permitted but games of pure chance were not. Italy then began blocking IP addresses of gambling websites which did not comply.

Again in 2009, infringement proceedings were issued by the EU against gambling laws. So, during 2010 further amendments were made to allow licenses to be issued for games of skill, cash poker games, casino games, fixed odds sports betting, horse pools and bingo.

Licenses would only be issued to bona-fide operators if they met certain requirements. Apart from financial and technical requirements, social responsibility was also included. The Italian Government was very restrictive, in order to obtain a gambling licence operators had to be turning over more than 1.5 million Euros for the past two years. The number of licenses granted was to be limited to 200 in total.

Italy does have a National Lottery run by SISAL. It has the highest jackpots and one of the lowest odds in the world. There are some regional lotteries which are allowed to operate.

During 2011, a Communitaria Decree provided further regulation. It was positive in that it provided regulation for poker and casino games.

Gambling operators were required to pay back 90% or more of money wagered as winnings.


Taxation of gambling is based on profit rather than turnover. The rate of tax is currently 20%. There is still an additional 3% tax payable by operators on lotteries, sports betting and games of skill.

Read more about gambling laws in other countries.

Read more about other gambling laws in Europe:

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