The Italian government recently passed legislation making it legal for poker players to play cash games at Italian online poker sites. This was startling news to some since the country’s government has, for the last several years, been vocal in its opposition to such activity. Whether the current goal is to collect more tax revenue or simply give citizens more freedom to do what they want, the change of heart is welcome news.
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There are a few restrictions, which we’ll mention in more detail in a moment. We’ll also present the pros and cons to playing at Italy poker sites online. The recent legislation has opened the door to two well-known poker sites that have been granted a license to operate in the country. We’ll profile both of them below.
Past Restrictions On Italian Online Poker Games
Online poker in Italy has gone through a few mini upheavals over the past few years. Prior to 2008, playing the game for cash was essentially banned. The government changed its mind in that year, and allowed people to play in tournaments. It then became illegal to participate in tournaments at Italian poker sites that did not have a license granted by the regulatory agency, Autonoma Dei Monopoli Di Stato (AAMS). Today, Italian players can also participate in cash games, though they must do so at AAMS-sanctioned sites.
Currently, the only poker rooms that are granted an AAMS license are those that cater exclusively to Italians, and host poker games on servers located in Italy. These restrictions, of course, pose a few noteworthy drawbacks.
Pros And Cons Of Playing At Italian Online Poker Sites
Let’s start by highlighting the advantages of playing at online poker sites in Italy. First, the sites are reliable. Because the industry is regulated, it is also safe. You won’t need to worry whether the poker room will let you withdraw your winnings.
Another advantage is that making deposits tends to be simple and problem-free. Because online poker in Italy is so heavily regulated, the poker sites do not need to obfuscate transactions. In most cases, you can use your Visa and MasterCard to fund your accounts.
And of course, because it is now legal to play in cash games, there is no concern about running afoul of the law. Simply log in, fund your account, and start playing.
As noted, there are also a few downsides to playing at Italian poker sites online. First, because poker rooms are required to cater exclusively to people in Italy, the number of players at the tables at any given time is low. While playing online poker is popular in Italy, the volume of player traffic cannot match that of the sites that cater to the entire EU.
A second drawback is that there tend to be fewer promotions available for players. This may be due to the fact that there’s less competition threatening to entice people away from the AAMS-sanctioned sites.
Another downside involves taxes. We’ll explain this in more detail below.
Italian Online Poker Rooms And Taxes
It is rumored that one of the reasons the Italian government switched directions with regard to the legalization of online poker was to collect tax revenue. To that end, the poker sites that have been granted an AAMS license pay 20 percent of their gross revenue in taxes. They also pay licensing fees to the agency.
So, what does this mean for poker players? The Italian online poker sites charge a higher rake in order to pay for the taxes and fees imposed by the government. Like most businesses, they pass the costs to the customers – in this case, the players. Realize upfront that playing online poker in Italy poses this drawback.
Top 2 Italy Poker Sites Online
Because the regulated poker industry is still relatively young in Italy, there are fewer sites available than those that cater to the rest of the EU. Given this, it may be difficult to find sites that have a long track record. We’ll make two recommendations. Both have operated for many years outside Italy, and have been granted AAMS licenses:
- Poker Stars – PokerStars is the largest poker room in the world. They have dominated the field for years. They offer a wide selection of games and tournaments, including the biggest online weekly guaranteed tourney in the world: the Sunday Million. Their software has long been considered one of the best in the industry, and their customer support staff is responsive to players. Visit PokerStars today, and claim a 100% match up to €400 on your first deposit. Use marketing code “kickasspoker.com” and bonus code “stars600” to lock it in.
- Party Poker – Before Stars, Party Poker was the industry titan. They targeted the small player, including beginners and hobbyists, and quickly built their brand as the top online poker destination. Although they are no longer the biggest poker site, they continue to command a high volume of player traffic. Party Poker offers a long list of promotions as well as a solid variety of games and tournaments. Visit Party Poker today, and use bonus code “yesyes” to grab a 100% match up to €400.
Over time, the list of Italian poker sites that offer a high-quality playing experience will continue to grow. We’ll add them to this page. For now, we recommend the two sites profiled above. Test drive both of them yourself to see whether you enjoy the experience.