Italy is a remarkable contributor to Western culture, one of the most significant territories in Europe, and one of the most influential countries in human history. With ancient attractions, a lengthy Mediterranean coastline, 50 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, perfect works of Renaissance art (such as Duomo by Brunelleschi), Roman Empire archaeological locales, the fashion metropolis of Milan, the canals city of Venice, the Vatican in Rome (Italy’s capital), interesting Alpine towns, endless social and cultural antiquities, a legion of historic arts and point expressions, and multitudinous antiquated ruins and vestiges, Italy is a standout amongst the most visited nations on the planet. In fact, numerous individuals consider this European nation their dream destination – and for gamblers, bettors or players, Italy is genuinely a dream destination.
Italy is rich historically, and gambling is no exception. Gambling has existed in Italy for a very long time, probably since the reign of the Roman Empire. Then, Roman emperors and elite citizens played dice (one of the oldest gambling games in history) while soldiers and other citizens gambled on board games.
Although it might have existed even before, Ludus Duodecim Scriptorum (“game of twelve lines”) became popular during the 2nd century and was widely played by Roman Legionnaires. Nevertheless, the game was mentioned in a didactic poem book, Ars Amatoria, written between 1 BC and 8 AD by Roman poet Publius Ovidius Naso, popularly known as Ovid.
Ludus Duodecim Scriptorum is often credited as the predecessor of the backgammon game played throughout the world today. Soon, the game spread to other regions in Europe. In the 1400s, a local variation of modern baccarat was transported from Italy to France. This means the game has been in Italy before the 1400s. It is also believed to have been created by an Italian gambler named Felix Flguererein. Therefore, baccarat is of Italian origin. Similarly, in the 1530s, a lottery-like game similar to modern Bingo called ‘Lo Giuoco del Lotto D’Italia’ was widely played by Italians which makes Bingo a product of Italy and this period the start of lotteries in Italy.
In 1638, the Great Council of Venice reconstructed a wing of Palazzo Dandolo in Venice into the first gambling house in history (which can be compared to modern casinos), Ridotto (‘Il Ridotto’). This was to establish an open gambling environment which could be controlled by (and profitable for) the government during the annual carnival period.
The four-story building had numerous rooms with Gerolamo Colonna’s artworks, games – its most famous game, Basetta (a combination of poker, gin rummy, and blackjack), lottery-like Biribi and other card games – and other amenities to entertain the customers to the greatest extent. However, the lower classes could not gamble in Il Ridotto for the stakes were high and the games available had very high house edge as a result of the high probability manipulated by the government.
Also, the roulette game originated from France in the 1720s but was, arguably, inspired by an Italian game known as Bibiri. The fact is not clear but, nonetheless, Italy has a thing or two to do with the history of roulette.
Further, the word “casino” came from Italy when the government shut down Il Ridotto in 1774 and, consequently, gaming clubs that were initially closed started gaining more popularity. These clubs were run by the secret criminal society, Mafia, and known as “casinos,” which is how the word “casino” came to be. Il Ridotto later reopened and became Casinò di Venezia, the oldest casino in the world. After some time, Casinò di Venezia cleaved into Ca’ Vendramin Calergi (the 1950s) and Ca’ Noghera (1999).
Meanwhile, in the 1900s, gambling was officially legalized in Italy. The National Lottery was established in 1932 and operated by different Italian companies. Today, SuperEnalotto is the most popular lottery and operated by Sisal.
On December 8th, 1927, an autonomous body called AAMS (Amministrazione Autonoma dei Monopoli di Stato) was established in accordance to a royal decree to oversee the production of salts and tobacco and how they are imported and sold.
In the 1980s, the purpose of the body was altered and directed to the supervision of gambling facilities and activities within the country. Gambling, or public gaming as officially known in Italy, was further centralized in 1988. This was when AAMS acquired the many national lotteries, and the Lotto and instant lottery games six years later. On July 9th, 1998, the functions of AAMS was completely stated and all things related to tobacco and salts were lifted. AAMS received the function to oversee Bingo in 2000. In 2001, Law 383/01 made AAMS a full-fledged gambling body by further receiving the licensing and regulatory control of all gambling activities and facilities within the country.
However, from early 20th century through 2015, the gambling laws of Italy have been modified numerous times through series of acts, decrees, and laws. The legal gambling activities in Italy are gaming machines (1931, 1972, and 2004), lotteries (1948), Bingo (2000), prize competitions (2001), horse racing betting (2004 and 2006), sports betting (2006), card games (2011), fixed-odds games of chance and skill (2011), online poker tournaments and casino games (2011), limited advertising and marketing of gambling services (2012), betting on simulated events (2013), and remote fixed-odds betting (2013). Lastly, on December 28th, 2015, the Stability Law numbered 208 was passed – which meant new tender for bingo, betting shops and online licenses, pardon for illegal gambling, increased advertising and marketing opportunities for gambling services, and an alteration of taxes.
AAMS was later dissolved and all gambling regulatory authorities were ceded to l’Agenzia delle Dogane on December 1st, 2012. The agency was, simultaneously, renamed to Agenzia delle Dogane e dei Monopoli (ADM), which is Italy’s customs and monopolies agency under the control of the Ministry of Finance.
Gambling is completely legal in Italy. Casino gambling, sports betting, pari-mutuel betting, the lottery and all other forms of gambling are legal in Italy. ADM is the regulatory body responsible for the licensing, regulation, monitoring, and auditing of all gambling activities and facilities within the country. As of 2018, there are about 38 functional casinos in the country. Nevertheless, most are quite recent while the first five casinos in Italy are the biggest and share the greater percentage of the gambling market. In fact, there were only five casinos in Italy (Casino de la Vallée – Saint-Vincent Resort and Casino, Casino di Sanremo, Casinò di Venezia: Ca’ Noghera,
Casinò di Venezia: Ca’ Vendramin Calergi, and Casino Municipale di Campione d’Italia) until the early 2000s.
While gambling is conscientiously historical in Italy, the number of casinos (or Las Vegas and Macau standard casinos) in Italy is not impressive. Yet, the gambling scene provided by the limited casinos is more than luscious. Luxury and capability are the right words that show how equipped the casinos are, the variety of games – both popular and unpopular – readily available, and other amenities attached to each casino for a fun-filled moment. Considering a figure of about 52.4 million visitors per year, Italy is undoubtedly a place to love.
However, Italy is fairly dangerous although this depends on the region or city in particular. Therefore, travelers should be careful when traveling to Italy so as to enjoy the gambling heaven the country has to offer by sticking to well-known casinos in safe cities or towns – this is highly recommended.
The 37 casinos in Italy are spread throughout 15 cities with most situated in Milan, making the Lombardy metropolis the largest gambling city in Italy. Venice, Brescia, Como, Rome, and Saint-Venice each feature more than one casino (mostly two to four) while Campione d’Italia, Civitanova Marche, Imperia, San Giovanni Teatino, Bologna, San Remo, Savona, Varese, and Merano each feature a single casino.
Casino Municipale di Campione d’Italia is the largest casino in Italy regarding the number of equipment and footage of gaming space. The casino offers 778 gaming machines and 56 table games with a gaming space of about 590,000 square feet. With 610 gaming machines and 20 table games, Casino di Venezia: Ca’ Noghera is the second largest casino.
The second Casino di Venezia, Ca’ Vendramin Calergi, offers 600 gaming machines and 28 table games – which makes it the third largest casino. Casino de la Vallée – Saint-Vincent Resort and Casino is the fourth largest Italian casino, with 512 gaming machines and 95 table games.
With a figure of 37, Italian casinos are typically operated in a hotel or resort (or situated close to one) and offer a wide variety of gaming machines and table games including baccarat, blackjack, backgammon, European roulette, French roulette, gin rummy, bridge, Poker Teresina, American roulette, craps, roulette, Punto Banco, Chemin de Fer, 5 Card Stud poker, Caribbean Stud Poker, English roulette, Trente et Quarante, Fair roulette, Saint-Vincent poker (available in Saint Vincent Resort and Casino and Casino de la Vallée – St. Vincent), and Texas Hold’em. Tournaments are widely available for gin rummy, backgammon, bridge, and all poker games.
In addition to the 38 casinos in Italy, there are seven hippodromes for horseracing and other pari-mutuel betting options. The majority of Italian gamblers do participate in this form of gambling, and the Palio di Siena is the most popular race in the country. It holds on July 2nd and August 16th every year in Siena. Additionally, players can wager on horse racing in the numerous sportsbooks available throughout the country.
Other sports betting are also popular in Italy, especially the world’s favourite sport: football (or soccer). There are, practically, sports betting shops on every popular Italian street. And there are numerous online bookmakers offering their services to players in Italy.
Considering the fact that bingo originated from Italy, it is only logical that bingo is a nationwide pastime for many Italians and visitors of Italy. The popularity is irrespective of age and region for Italians generally consider bingo as a fun game with a cash prize perk, and many bingo halls and salons are spread throughout all Italian regions.
Moving on, we have the lottery – which, in Italy, is almost as popular as bingo. The lottery is a state monopoly, which is the case in the majority of countries inside and outside Europe. The most popular lottery game is SuperEnalotto, which is operated by Sisal, an Italian gaming, and payment company. The lottery draws are held thrice a week (on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays) and offer cash prizes up to €2 million.
Lastly, online gambling is flawlessly legal in Italy. Many and well-known gambling websites are licensed in Italy to offer their services to a wide range of audience. Whether lottery, bingo, poker, sports, or casino, gambling online is acceptable under the law.
Below is a list of all casinos currently operating in the regions of Italy.
Bovisio Masciago Casino Slottery Las Vegas
Casino de la Vallée – Saint-Vincent Resort and Casino
Casino di Sanremo
Casinò di Venezia: Ca’ Noghera
Casinò di Venezia: Ca’ Vendramin Calergi
Casino Le Palme at Hippodrome Abruzzo
Casino Municipale di Campione d’Italia
Casinò Le Palme Civitanova
Casinò Municipale di Sanremo
Costa Cruises – Mediterranea
Las Vegas Slottery – Imperia Casino
Lido de Venezia
Mariano Comense Casino
Milano Piazzale Corvetto
Milano Santa Rita Casino
Milano Viale Abruzzi
Princess Cruises – Pacific Princess
Puegnago del Garda Casino
Queen Bingo Hall
Slottery Las Vegas Legnano
Slottery Las Vegas Mariano
Slottery Las Vegas Melzo Casino
Slottery Las Vegas Milano Gran Sasso
Slottery Las Vegas Olgiate Olona
Slottery Las Vegas Palazzolo sull’Oglio Casino
Slottery Las Vegas Parabiago Casino
Slottery Las Vegas Peschiera Borromeo Casino
Slottery Las Vegas Puegnago
Slottery Las Vegas Rescaldina Casino
Vincendo Mini Casino – Meran
Vincendo Mini Casino – Milan
Windstar Cruises – Star Breeze
Windstar Cruises – Star Legend
Windstar Cruises – Star Pride
Windstar Cruises – Wind Star
– 18 years is the minimum gambling age and a valid ID is required for verification.
– Most Italian casinos require a dress code but each casino defines its own code.
– The legalisation of online gambling in Italy started with the European Commission when the institution questioned Italy for the restrictions on online gambling in 2003. In 2006, the first approach occurred but the first effective decree came through in 2007. In 2010, another decree was passed and allows foreign licensed gambling websites to offer their respective services to people in Italy.
– Slot machines are Italians’ favourite as there are over 380,000 slot machines throughout the regions of Italy. Surprisingly, even pharmacies have slot machines.
– Online poker games are only allowed between Italians or residents of Italy.
– Online gambling generates 10 percent of the total revenues. In the United Kingdom, the percentage is double.
– Illegal gambling and gambling addiction are serious problems in Italy.
– Pertaining illegal gambling, more than 4,500 gambling websites have been blacklisted by the ADM (then AAMS) and Italian ISPs (Internet Service Providers) are required to restrict them. (At the same time, approximately 50 websites are added to the whitelist per month). Also, hundreds of slot parlours are run by the Italian Mafia and, according to the Anti-Mafia Commission, the Italian Mafia is profiting even more than the Italian government.
– Pertaining gambling addiction, the government is more than concerned and has proposed abolishing the ever-growing slot machines in the country. Libera reported that almost one million Italians are addicted to at least one form of gambling. Italy is only behind Australia and Singapore as the country with the highest gambling spending per capita.
– There is a high rate of crime in Italy, which can be linked to addicted gamblers stealing and robbing to pay off their gambling debts. Addicted gamblers are mostly poor retirees and unemployed youths.
– Seeing the high rate of illegal gambling, the political party M5S (5-Star-Movement) proposed that land-based and online gambling should be completely abolished in Italy. Reasons were that gambling is an impeccable disguise for organised crimes and a general cause of diverse social problems.
– The founder of Not So Slot, a social psychologist named Simone Feder, complained that 800,000 out of 15 million Italian gamblers are addicted to gambling; stating the fact that these addicts are just hopeful and believe they can get off their low-living by playing slot machines with their scanty wages or money criminally gathered if there are no wages at all.
– SERT is one of the many groups with a purpose to eradicate gambling addiction in Italy.
– One initiative against gambling is the BetOnMath, a school programme where three qualified mathematicians break down the idea of gambling and the gambling industry so school students can understand and, therefore, set the students against gambling. More than 250 maths teachers have already signed up for the programme.
– Contrary to Italy’s 2 percent share of the world’s population, the Italian gambling industry accounts for more than 20 percent of the world’s entire gambling market.
– Despite Vincendo Mini Casino being a mini casino, there are 60 gaming machines in its Meran branch and 100 in its Milan branch.
– The seven Italian hippodromes are Ippodromo Martini Corridonia in Corridonia, Ippodromo del Casalone in Grosseto, Ippodromo di Maia in Merano, Ippodromo Romanengo in Novi Ligure, Ippodromo Di San Rossore in Pisa, Tor di Valle Harness Raceway in Rome, and Vinovo Ippodromi Di Torino in Vinovo – Torino.
– Italian SuperEnalotto was established in 1997. The operator, Sisal, was founded in 1946. In 2015, the company reported a turnover of a whopping sum of €15.1 billion.
– On October 30th, 2010, a lottery player won a mouth-watering jackpot of €177.7 million in Italy. Till today, this is the highest single-ticket jackpot in the history of SuperEnalotto.
– The Italian government does not support the use of Bitcoin but partially subject the use of electronic currency to banks and financial institutions. Therefore, Bitcoin gambling is technically legal in Italy considering the fact that decentralised financial institutions (and not gambling websites) handle Bitcoin transactions.
– In Italy, only companies can apply for gambling (or gaming) licenses – individuals cannot. And, the company must have a gambling license in a European country prior to an application, a financial guarantee of €1.5 million or more, and an infrastructure suitable for offering at least a legal game.
– Italy is one of the few European Union members who has never been pressured by the EU itself to loosen its gambling laws.
– According to Italian law, the servers of a gambling service must be within the territory of a European Economic Area member.
– Only gambling services with an Italian online gaming license can offer gaming with cash prizes.
– The legal definition of land-based gambling and other gambling-related stipulations are outlined in the 1930s Criminal Code, sections 718 through 723. Online gambling, on the other hand, is outlined in the 2011 ADM Decree, section 1.3(p).
– Legally, gambling is covered by two legislations: primary (the Civil Code and Criminal Code) and secondary (the regulations issued by Agenzia delle Dogane e dei Monopoli).
– The tax rates are 20 percent for fixed-odds betting, 22 percent for online games, 18 percent for land-based games, 20 for skill games, 19 percent for land-based sports betting, and 23 percent for online sports betting. These percentages are of the gross revenues returned to the player as winnings. Poker, both online and land-based, is taxed at just 3 percent.
– The gambling websites available to Italians, residents of Italy and visitors are provided in both Italian and English languages, and use both EUR and USD. Presently, there are more than 185 licensed gambling websites.
– On May 30th, 2013, a Chinese player won approximately €350,000 in Milan playing one-armed bandit. The prize was paid by the largest arcade operator in Central and Eastern Europe, Olympic Entertainment Group.
– According to reports, an average Italian gambler spends €1,000 or more per year. This particular rate is higher than most countries’. Players in Lombardy, one of Italy’s regions, spend more than the nation’s average for they spend €3,000.
– The gambling revenues in Italy grow annually. For one, revenues went up 24 percent in 2014 when compared to the gross revenues in 2013. Second, revenues went up 21 percent from 2015 to 2016. Concurrently, Italy’s gambling industry is worth €80 billion per year as of 2017 and about 10 percent is granted to the national budget.
– In 2006, the Italian government penalised Stanleybet, a British bookmaker, for operating gambling activities without an Italian license using its service Placanica and imposed a number of punishments on the company. The company dragged the government to the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) and, in 2007, a final judgement was passed. The judgement found Stanleybet not guilty and reinforced the fact that any gambling operator licensed in an EU country can operate freely in the territory of another EU country.
– In 2013, Malta restricted Italian players from playing on Malta-licensed gambling websites and Italian operators from operating in Malta. Accordingly, the CJEU passed a ruling which stated that this was a violation against EU laws for – as stated earlier – any gambling operator licensed in an EU country can operate freely in the territory of another EU country.
– In actual fact, gambling in Italy is older than the Vatican.
– Italians can also play lotteries of other EU countries such as El Gordo of Spain.
– Casinò di Venezia: Ca’ Noghera is often called Italy’s first American-style casino.
– Casinò di Venezia: Ca’ Vendramin Calergi have a restaurant named after Wilhelm Richard Wagner, German composer – famously known for his unique operas (or music dramas) – who once lived in Venice.
– Apart from December 24th and 25th, the two Casinò di Venezia open every day of the year.
– Casino Municipale di Campione d’Italia is the largest casino in the whole continent of Europe. It opened as far back as 1917, closed in 1919, then reopened in 1933.
– On slot machines, the minimum bet is between €0.01 and €10.00 while the maximum is typically €500 a spin.