Italy’s gaming sector is gradually recovering after two years marked by deep uncertainty. According to the latest statistical surveys, Italians have returned to full play in all fields. Most prefer to entertain themselves online, while a small portion represented by historical players still prefer to immerse themselves in the atmosphere of physical gaming rooms.
The return to gaming points distributed throughout Italy is good news for the supply chain, however, the past two years have marked a before and after in the history of the industry, with a massive migration of players to the online sector.
In 2020 there was a dramatic slowdown in the gaming sector. The most obvious consequences were the reduction of physical game collection (-47.2%) and the growth of the online sector (+35%). In 2021 the scene improved, Italians returned to gambling, totaling a revenue collection in line with 2019 data, approximately 107 billion euros.
A report by the Italian Customs and Monopolies Agency presented at the “A Social Perspective for ADM” event also showed that there was also a 30 percent increase in the number of online gaming accounts opened in 2021.
The transaction from the land-based to the digital sector is just the latest change in the supply chain in Italy, which a few years ago was literally overwhelmed by the Dignity Decree approved by the Conte government. Advertising-level restrictions on all media, except for B2B newspapers, have virtually obscured the work from regulated gaming operators.
All traditional communication channels have been blocked by the Decree, and despite a slight opening with the approval of the AGCOM guidelines, the supply chain has had to change the way it operates. Without the visibility offered by TV, radio and the Internet, the traditional one that leads to immediate awareness of a product, gaming operators have taken alternative ways at the marketing level.
For customer acquisition, the industry has focused on welcome bonuses, making free spins and fun bonuses available to new and old users to test gaming platforms. Such facilities, as top gaming-related marketing experts have confirmed, are vital for attracting new customers and subsequently retaining them.
Welcome bonuses have therefore become the main source of customer acquisition for online casinos and sports betting sites, so there has been a kind of contest between gaming operators to come up with the best entry package and introduce their products.
Not just bonuses. Developers and software houses have had to increase production to improve the quality and quantity of titles launched on the Italian market. In the last two years on all online casino platforms active in the Italian sector there has been a significant growth in the number of games in the schedules, due to the increasing demands and new requirements of long-time online players and those who have moved from the land-based segment.
This spring in the development of new titles has also brought next-generation slots with combo features to the industry, as we can see in the schedule of Starvegas and other leading operators in Italy. The introduction of features, extra games and bonuses was specially designed by the developers to increase the average time of game sessions, taking advantage of gamification and reward systems much loved by players.
What will be the future of the industry? Now, the only answer we can give is that it will still be digital and rich in technological innovations. As long as advertising restrictions are in place, the sphere of visibility of regulated gambling operators will be limited, so all industry leaders will continue to invest on game offerings and bonuses to acquire and retain new customers, as well as open internal communication channels to promote their products and communicate about gambling.
These are tough times for marketing, but gambling has always found a way to carve out its own space in the iGaming industry.