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Gambling in Italy

Italian Casino Betting and Gaming Laws

By Reno Rollins

Italy Gambling - Italian GamblingItalian gambling has influenced the betting laws and betting customs in most of Western Europe and North America, which has in turn changed the way people gamble worldwide.

Importance of Italy to the Gambling World

No other country has done more for the development of gambling than Italy. According to historical accounts, the Italians adopted the fortunetelling cards of the invading Saracens and first used them for gambling.

Baccarat was also invented in Italy, most likely in the latter stages of the 15th century, and the lottery appeared in 1530 and would later evolve into bingo. And the earliest examples of casinos appeared in Venice in 1726, as they were used by the Venetian nobility to discuss business and engage in all manner of debauchery.

Growth of Gambling in Italy

Until the last few years, gambling was generally viewed in a very negative light by Italian citizens. With the mafia being directly tied to illegal gambling clubs, residents viewed the pastime as something to be avoided. In fact, Italian schools have been known to run programs against gambling and hold classroom lectures about the evils associated with the activity.

While casinos, horse racing and other gambling activities are legal, they have been slow to catch on in the country. This has changed over time, but the Italian government has seemingly fought it every step of the way.

In recent years, Italy also attempted to ban all IP addresses associated with online gambling sites. When this failed, the Italian government attempted to create an exclusive online poker room.

But as of January 1st, 2007, Italy has done an about-face and made it legal for any Italian citizen to gamble online. They also recently announced a willingness to issue over 17,000 gambling licenses which would cover casinos, online gambling companies and betting stations.

With these changes in attitude, Italy’s gaming market is expected to increase by 64% by 2010. The interactive gambling market in the country is also expected to achieve an increase of around 240% by 2010.

With a minimum gambling age of 18, the country’s gaming industry has also been bolstered by the youth culture. Bingo has become especially popular in recent years, with trendy youths rubbing elbows with elderly citizens at the local bingo hall.

Italian Casinos

  • Casino de la Vallee (Via Italo Mus, Saint Vincent) The largest casino in the country, Casino de la Vallee features 95 table games and 512 slot and video poker machines. Games include 5 Card Stud, American Roulette, Blackjack, Caribbean Stud Poker, Chemin de Fer, Craps, English Roulette, French Roulette, Poker, Punto Banco and Trente Quarante.
  • Queen Bingo Hall (Bologna, Italy) Seventy table games are featured within the casino’s 750 square foot gaming area.
  • Casino Municipale di Campione d’Italia (Piazzale Milano 1, Campione d’Italia) Features baccarat, blackjack, craps, Punto Banco, roulette, European roulette and Chemin de Fer. 225 gaming machines are also available. All major currencies are accepted, and the minimum age to enter is 18.
  • Casino Municipale di Sanremo (Corso degli Inglesi 18, San Remo) This casino features two restaurants and live entertainment. There are a total of 433 gaming machines and 38 table games. These games consist of American roulette, baccarat, blackjack, and French roulette.
  • Casino Municipale di Venezia (Lungomare Marconi 4, Venice) This summer casino is closed from October through April. When open, its business hours are 4pm until 2:30 am during the week and 4pm until 3:30am on the weekends. Games include 30-40, baccarat, backgammon, blackjack, bridge, gin rummy and French roulette. International bridge, backgammon and gin rummy tournaments are also held. Minimum age to gamble is 18, and a jacket and tie are required to enter.
  • Casino Municipale di Venezia (Palazzo Vendramin Calergi, Venice) This winter casino is closed from May through September. When it’s open, it operates from 3pm until 2:30 am on the weekdays and 3pm to 4:45am on the weekends. Games include 30-40, backgammon, blackjack, bridge tournaments, French roulette and gin rummy tournaments.

Italian Horse Racing

Horse racing is available throughout Italy, and it can also be wagered on through various legal sports books. The most famous race in the country is the Palio di Siena, which is held twice a year on July 2nd and August 16th in Siena. Dog racing was declared illegal by the Italian Green Party in May of 2002.

Notable horse tracks include:

  • Ippodromo Martini Corridonia (Corridonia)
  • Ippodromo del Casalone (Grosseto)
  • Ippodromo di Maia (Merano)
  • Ippodromo Romanengo (Novi Ligure)
  • Ippodromo Di San Rossore (Pisa)
  • Tor di Valle Harness Raceway (Rome)
  • Vinovo Ippodromi Di Torino (Vinovo - Torino)

Online Gambling in Italy

The government of Italy tried their best to keep online gambling out of their country. They even went so far as to prosecute those who accepted bets without first receiving authorization from the authorities. This did not hold up, however, and a European Union court ruled that Italy could not bar gambling companies from other European Union nations from conducting business with citizens of Italy.

Since online gambling was made legal in the country, numerous casinos and sports books have started serving the Internet needs of their Italian customers. And with the United States passing the UIGEA into law, more and more citizens have flocked to take advantage of the services.

Sports Betting in Italy

Numerous sports betting services are available throughout the country. Two of the largest, William Hill and Ladbrokes have licenses to take wagers over the phone and the Internet. In addition, they have also established betting centers across Italy, usually located in gaming parlors, newsstands, coffee shops and bars.

Bingo in Italy

Bingo was born in Italy around five centuries ago. It started as the lottery and was then adopted into its current form by an American looking for new ways to entertain the masses. While the game was illegal in Italy for many years, it has recently become a trendy (and allowable) pastime. Bingo salons dot the country, and their cash prizes and high-tech video screens have made the game popular with young and old alike.

The Italian Lottery

The lottery was first launched in Italy after its unification in 1530. Since then, drawings have been held every Saturday, and the government rakes in billions of dollars every year.

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