According to Italian law, gambling is illegal. However, there are some concessions which allow for licensed gambling once regulated by the government. Thankfully, this covers pretty much all the usual gambling activities including sports betting and horse racing betting. This means that Italians have quite a variety of online betting websites to choose from, many of which offer odds on sports and racing in both Italian and global betting markets. 

Best Italian Betting Sites

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Italian Sports and Horse Racing Betting — a Primer

Italian sports betting sites and online racebooks operate in a legal, regulated market that is mostly friendly towards gambling. Gaming licenses are horribly expensive and taxes are a bit high, but most of the world’s large online sports and horse racing betting brands have established a presence on Italian soil. The market continues to show growth year after year, even while the online betting markets in other countries struggle.

Gambling laws in Italy permit up to 120 operators to receive licenses to operate within the country. Although hundreds of unlicensed sites continue to accept Italians despite lacking regulatory approval, there is no need to deal with illegal online betting sites. After all, nearly every major name in online betting has a license to offer real money sports betting and horse race wagering online here in Italy. 

Sports and Horse Race Betting Regulation

Italian bettors enjoy considerable freedom when it comes to sports and horse racing betting. The country allows real money online sports betting as well as in-person wagering at approved kiosks and parlors. Italian punters can wager on any major sport and horse races at shops located all across the country and at licensed online bookmakers.

All betting shops and online operators are licensed under Italy’s Agenzia delle Dogane e dei Monopoli (ADM). The ADM is the country’s only gambling regulator covering all gambling sectors including casino and lottery gaming. Any sports betting or horse wagering retail outlet or online sportsbook or racebook must have a license issued by the authority. 

Underground or black market betting on sports and horse racing is a serious issue for the ADM. This is why Italian gambling laws allow for the issuance of so many licenses. The hope is that if there is a multitude of legal sports and horse race betting options available, gamblers will avoid underground bookmakers. 

The Road to Regulation

Betting on sports and horse racing wasn’t always so easy in Italy. For many years gamblers were forced to use international and unlicensed online betting sites or local underground bookmakers. However, this changed in 2006 when the government began relaxing its anti-gambling laws. The legalization of online betting exchanges and real money games of skills opened the floodgates and by 2007, the government had also decided to legalize online poker and allow foreign operators to enter the local gambling industry. 

However, the government maintained tight control over online sports and horse race betting, allowing only the Italian National Olympic Committee and National Horse Breeders Enhancement Society to operate in these markets. This was seen as an illegal act by the EU who insisted that the market should be open to private operators. But it wasn’t until 2010 that the government relented and opened the market to competition from other EU operators. 

The law that was enacted in 2010 opened the market and allowed practically all forms of online gambling once the operator was licensed by the newly established Amministrazione Autonoma dei Monopoli di Stato (AAMS). This was the primary regulator for the gambling industry, but in 2012 the AAMS became a part of the Agenzia delle Dogane e dei Monopoli (Customs and Monopolies Agency or ADM), where it remains today.

Under current laws, Italian betting sites must meet a number of qualifications in order to be accepted as licensees. Operators seeking a license must have an established residence in an EEA country, show a betting turnover of at least EUR 1,500,000 over the previous two years and operate on a .it domain name.

Additionally, licensees must connect to a central system operated by the AAMS that grants access to records of every wager placed by an Italian customer. Upon approval, the gaming company must pay a one-time fee of €350,000 for the license.

Gambling companies that are incorporated in Italy are required to pay a corporate tax of 27.5%. Depending on the region they are located in, Italian based operators also pay an additional state tax of 2% to 5%. Each form of gaming provided by the operator is also taxed at a separate rate ranging from 3% to 20% on total betting turnover.

Important Pieces of Legislation

Finance Act of 2007: This piece of legislation altered gambling laws to legalize card games of skill. This effectively legalized popular card games, such as Texas Holdem, Omaha and Seven Card Stud. However, this did not legalize video poker and casino gambling as these games were still considered by authorities to be mostly dependent on luck.

Comunitaria Decree: Two versions of one Comunitaria Decree formalized the licensing process for prospective licensees. This was the major breakthrough that foreign operators had been waiting for as it finally opened the doors to the Italian betting market.

Legal Online Betting Markets in Italy

These are the types of legal online betting markets currently available in Italy:

  • Sports betting
  • eSports betting
  • Poker
  • Casino games
  • Bingo
  • Horse racing betting
  • Exchange betting
  • Skill games

Popular Italian Betting Markets 

As you would expect from a country that is obsessed with the sport, Serie A and soccer in general is one of the most wagered on sport in Italy. Interestingly, Italians don’t just wager on local leagues but also on foreign professional leagues such as the English Premier League and the Spanish La Liga. In 2020 alone, Italians placed almost €10 billion in wagers on the sport. 

While it may not host any of the world’s most famous races, Italy has a thriving horse racing industry that sees the sport compete with soccer for the number one spot in terms of revenue generated. The big races on the calendar are the Gran Premio Merano, the Premio Vittorio di Capua, and the Palio di Siena. They may not be on a par with the Kentucky Derby or the Grand National, but they draw in serious crowds each and every year. 

In 2016, the ADM approved betting on eSports events such as League of Legends and Dota 2. The ADM first gave local sports betting operator SNAI authorization to offer real money wagers on a limited variety of video games. Now, there are several operators that offer odds on events such as these. 

Italian Online Sportsbooks and Racebooks

As mentioned above, the Italian market is flooded with licensed operators so Italian gamblers are really spoilt for choice. 

The biggest names in the local market include:

  • Lottomatica
  • Snai
  • Sisal (recently acquired by Flutter)
  • Bet365
  • 888Sport
  • Eurobet
  • Unibet

Lottomatica has the greatest market share with almost 17% while Snai holds 14% and Sisal 13% of the local sports betting market. All of the above providers offer odds on both local and international sporting and horse racing events.