The Impact of the Structural Characteristics of Poker on Market Evolution and Competitive Dynamics in the Internet Poker Industry in Italy

  •  Paolo Calvosa    


The aim of this study is to analyze the impact that the specific nature and characteristics of the game of poker have had on the development of the Internet poker industry in Italy and on the competitive strategies of on line gambling operators. It facilitates the overall understanding of the different effects that the legalization of Internet gambling in Italy has had on the evolution of the poker industry, in respect to other gambling sectors. Based of existing literature, the study has shown that two distinctive features define the game of Internet poker. The first is connected to the nature of games of skill that distinguishes poker; the second, instead, is linked to the fact that Internet poker is a ‘player-versus-player game’, i.e. it requires the simultaneous presence at gaming tables by multiple players. In order to analyze the market dynamics of the Internet poker industry, from a methodological viewpoint the study is supported by an empirical investigation that concerned all the ‘on line poker rooms’ in Italy that were remote gambling licenses or sub-licensees in 2018. The results of the empirical analysis have highlighted that the progress of market sales and competitive strategies that have typified the evolution of the on line poker market in Italy seem to be strongly influenced by the specific characteristics of the game of poker. This has led to the affirmation of a distinctive structure of competition in this market, that differs from that of other categories of on line games. The empirical analysis carried out has also made it possible to show that the legalization of on line gambling, that started in 2008, has opened the Italian regulated gambling industry to competition from foreign ‘Internet pure players’, who have acquired a strong market position in the on line poker sector. The results of the research provide interesting indications to policy makers in the field of the regulation of on line gambling and also bring out interesting implications of a managerial nature that help to devise competitive strategies more consistent with the specific characteristics of the game of poker.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.