Going by the numbers, Italy is the biggest online gambling market in Europe, with an estimated turnover of €4.8 billion in 2009, and a 28 percent growth rate, per iGaming Business.

And, as Online Casino Suite points out, the equivalent of €4.8 billion is $6,518,722,558.57 in U.S. currency.

“Think about it, an online gaming market valued at the US equivalent of $6.5 billion, and on online poker tournaments, online bingo and online sports betting alone. That is a lot of money in one year.”

And that’s not an overstatement: Online gambling markets for larger countries, like Canada or Australia, are valued at only about a billion dollars a year each.

It’s an even more impressive number when you consider that other EU countries, like the UK, have a more robust and regulated online gambling market, and that the UK, Germany, and France are all more populous than Italy.

And then consider that full online poker regulations haven’t even been implemented in Italy yet — but that’s set to happen this month. And, with so many companies disappointed over France’s online gambling licensing structure, that could make Italy the EU’s online gambling hotspot. 

This month, the Italian government “is finally set to permit not online live poker table games but also casino style online table games and online slots at online casinos in Italy,” reports GamingZion.com.

“Even though Italy became one of the first European governments to regulate and legalize online gambling, random games were chosen to be legal while others remained forbidden under Italian gambling laws,” the article explains.

The government has technically regulated online gambling for years, but not all types of gaming. Online poker tournaments were allowed, but cash games were not. This year, then, cash games in online poker and online casinos will finally be allowed and licensed — and, to no one’s surprised, online gambling companies are lining up to get a piece of the action. 

“Online poker in Italy was up by 30 percent in 2010 over the €3.1bn figure of 2009,” reports PokerNews.com. “Experts believed this number could have been much higher had there not been delays in introducing cash games. Now that the shackles are off, Italy is primed to be the go-to place for online poker action.”

The addition of these new poker cash games “is expected to add another €400 million to margins in 2011, with online casinos also adding a further €200 million in 2011 and €1 billion in 2012,” the article continues.

The bottom line for poker affiliates? If you’re interested in international markets — of if you’re already in Western Europe — you may want to take some action and get involved in the Italian online gambling market while it’s still young, and while many great opportunities still exist.

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