As with any country boasting a long, rich history, gambling has been present in Italian society for centuries. In fact, the first records date back to the Roman Empire, when Roman legionnaires enjoyed Ludus Duodecim Scriptorum, the basis of modern backgammon.
Many other games have originated out of Italy, though it is hard to say for certain whether they were influenced by other cultures. It is said that Baccarat was invented in Italy somewhere during the 15th century.
During the same period, Italians enjoyed a game titled Lo Giuoco del Lotto D’Italia, a game of chance with a striking resemblance to bingo, which is why it is said that bingo was also invented in Italy.
In 1638, in the city of Venice, the country’s first gambling house was opened. It was called Ridotto, where games like Biribi and Bassetta were both enjoyed.
However, as the house edge in these games was too high, and only higher class citizens could realistically afford to play, Ridotto was banned in 1774.
This only resulted in the rise of illegal gambling venues, called “casinos”. Thus, the word casino originates from Italy as well.
In modern times, Italian criminal law generally regards gambling as an illegal activity. However, sports betting and lottery are considered games of skill rather than games of chance and are legal in many forms across the country.
Today’s Italian gambling laws are surprisingly liberal, and even certain land casinos have been allowed to acquire a license. Yet, only 5 land casinos are present on Italian soil.
- Casino di Sanremo
- Casino di Campione d’Italia
- Casino Saint-Vincent
- Casino Venice
- Casino de la Vallee
The minimum gambling age is 18, and players are required to verify their identity with their personal ID upon entry into the casino. The casinos boast many table games in the likes of Blackjack, Roulette, Baccarat, and Poker.
Gambling nowadays in Italy
In terms of online gambling, the market was greatly liberalized in 2006, when the European Commission found that Italy’s anti-gambling regulations violated the European Union’s 98/34/EC Directive related to provisions of information in fields of technical regulations.
Because of this, in 2010, Italy made important amendments to their gambling laws, removing a total of 621 blacklisted gambling websites, and allowing foreign online gambling operators to serve Italian customers, as long as they had acquired a proper license.
In 2011, another breakthrough was made, and new regulation allowed the legal play of poker and casino games for real money. Previously, in 2007, only poker tournaments had been legalized.
In contrast to many other European countries, Italy’s general gambling and online gambling markets are a notch above the rest, and we can expect even more progress in the future.
Most certainly, the Italian government will look to capitalize on the tax benefits from the rise of online gambling, and even more, lenient legislation looks to be on the horizon.