Italy is a country known for its ability to produce scores of wonderful products and services. A host of businesses and industries in Italy have done extremely well. Not every sector of the economy is thriving. In a very surprising turn of events, the online gambling industry in Italy is doing far weaker than people realize. In particular, online poker is doing very poorly. Other areas of online gambling seem to be doing fine, but poker struggles and struggles. To say this is a surprise would not be a shocking statement. No one is talking about an experimental new game that seeks to target a new customer demographics. Poker is a wildly popular game and has been popular for decades upon decade before the internet was even thought about in science-fiction novels.
Yet, poker is lagging in an embarrassing manner in Italy. No one is going to suggest that the people in the gambling industry in Italy are not putting the right amount of effort into promoting poker. A lot of effort, time, and, yes, money has been invested in driving the popularity of poker. No real results are being achieved though and this is unfortunate. A very aggressive marketing campaign is being utilized to move the dial of poker popularity up. No real results are showing right now, but that could all change in the near future.
The actual dollar figures revealed upon a close examination of how the “poker economy” of Italy as sad. Poker revenue is in a huge decline. In September, the net revenue for online poker “ring games” dropped by about 20%. The actual drop was from $9.3 million to about $7.3 million. That would be a drop from €8.2 million to €6.5 million.
Interestingly, online gambling has increased in activity levels from previous times but the amount of general wagers is down. People may be playing more, but they are wagering less. The money figures wagered by players has dropped from $372 million to $273 million. In Euros, this reflects a drop from €330 million to €242.2 million.
In 2011, online gaming for money was legalized in Italy and the assumption money would flow into the coffers of the industry. Things did not turn out the way people had hoped. Revenues have been up and down and not really delivered a reliable, consistent income stream. Some feel that tournament poker is the root of the decline in revenue. Actually, these “feelings” are rooted in actual numerical facts. The buy-ins for tournament poker have dropped and dropped dramatically. The figure is a 19% drop. That means revenue went from €58.7 million to €72.5 million. Net revenues also saw a decline in the tournament poker world. None of these factors would indicate a healthy environment for poker games in the online casino realm.
There were some regulatory attempts to help stimulate the gambling industry in Italy, but nothing really seemed to work all that well. A 20% tax on gross profits was instituted and this is a far preferable deal than a tax on gross revenue. Still, any form of taxes cuts into how much money the casino can make. There are proposals floating around that would levy taxes on digital services, which is not a good thing. Again, the new taxes would harm an already struggling industry.
A question does have to be posed here. Did the industry hurt itself by over-marketing poker?
Complaints have arisen about the massive amount of gambling advertising that has saturated the media landscape since the 2011 legalization. In particular, a massive amount of advertisement has aired on television. Perhaps too much advertisement has saturated the various channels. Politicians have become very uncomfortable with the advertising and some are pushing to curtail it.
Honestly, the gambling industry might be hurting itself with all the advertisement. Potential customers can only handle so much advertising before they start to become somewhat numb to the images they see on television or hear on the radio. All those banner ads on the internet have an effect, too. The effect is supposed to be a good one. Advertising should stimulate people into wanting to try out poker. Marketing should nudge people to feel enthused. All of this is possible when the advertisement is done with a decent amount of moderation.
Bombardments of advertising end up leaving people feeling as if they are being insulted by a barrage of promotional material. In time, audiences no longer react to the advertising to the degree they once did.
As a result, the advertisements are no longer having the effect they once did. Too much advertising could ruin the ability for a marketing campaign to have an effect for some time until the industry cuts back a little. That is pretty hard to do. Industry insiders do not want to cut back on ads because of the risks of revenue falling quicker and harder.
Unfortunately, advertisements are not delivering the results that are sought. Online poker is doing poorly in Italy. The bottom has not fallen out and a comeback is possible, but this does not look like something that is going to occur any time soon.