Italian bookmakers and wider industry stakeholders are making adjustments to the daunting reality that Russia 2018 will feature no Azzurri!
For the first time since 1958, there will be no Italian representation at a FIFA World Cup tournament. Italy now faces a summer of soul searching for its downtrodden Calcio, as business analysts estimate a + €1billion hit for the Italian national economy.
Italian betting prospects were discussed at SBC’s Betting on Football 2018 Conference (#bofcon2018), where Marco Castaldo, Chief Executive of Italian betting software supplier Microgame commented on summer adjustments that Italian betting stakeholders may face.
“We expect to lose some turnover versus the last World Cup. How much is difficult to estimate. Margins will be impacted too, as bets that would have been made in Italy may move to more favoured contenders. But the industry also loses a classic customer acquisition opportunity: getting new punters to try betting by leveraging loyalty to their national team.”
However, seeking to drive Russia 2018 engagement, with Italian football fans, Castaldo reveals that Microgame will launch its new network daily fantasy sports (DFS) product this June;
“To help compensate, we will be launching our Daily Fantasy Sports network to coincide with the World Cup. The idea is to provide players with a different type of engagement with the tournament since they won’t have their team to support. We are merging with an existing network and are working to put all the leading operators together to create significant liquidity, which is what has been missing. With sufficient liquidity, Daily Fantasy Sports is an interesting game on its own. But we also see it as an effective cross-selling tool into Sports Betting.”
Although the Italian betting will have no Azzurri support this summer, Castaldo and Microgame remain confident on the sector’s long-term digital prospects and growth.
As leader of Microgame, a supplier of tailored betting/igaming software, Castaldo is buoyed by the positive response to the Italian governments new national tender for online gambling licenses. Castaldo welcomes further foreign participation within the Italian sector, as new blood will drive competition and innovation between market new incumbents and legacy players.
“In general, I expected interest but the number is a bit surprising: more than 40 new operators, net of the renewals. Observers believe the market will consolidate but after this licensing round, we could have over 110 operators, more than 4 years ago. ”
“Probably, this reflects the underlying and persistent growth trend in the online segment, leading to significant interest from the last international operators who are not present. After all, Italy is one of the largest regulated markets out there. I believe we will also see a significant number of new operators from the local land-based gaming industry, who have finally decided that multi-channel is the way to go. Put simply this may be the real news…”