Italian Poker Gaming Regulations In Effect

by Poker Team

Online gaming laws are in a constant state of confusion these days.  In the United States, the debate has been raging on for years ever since the creating of the Unlawful Internet and Gambling Enforcement Act.  It seems sometimes as though companies are engaging in a massive shell game just to remain legally compliant while maintaining profitability.

Events this week however, show that the issues are not just limited to America.  Yesterday, PokerStars customers living in Italy discovered something unexpected when they logged into their accounts.  Rather than logging into the main Poker Stars portal, they were instead re-routed into the Italia version of the site.

It seems that online gaming laws in Italy have been in a state of flux for the better part of 10 years.  In 2006, internet service providers in Italy were ordered to block all gaming entities which operate outside of the country’s borders.  They were provided with a list of 600 companies involved in the ban and Italian residents could only partake in local games.  This action was frowned upon by the European Union and the block was lifted.  However, since that time, the Italian government has been in talks regarding what sanctions are acceptable.

All the while, Poker Stars had been positioning itself in the event the country would be successful in its effort of blocking the international sites.  To combat this, they created the aforementioned Italian only site and also created the Italian Poker Tour.

However, in February, Italy reached on agreement with the European Union on changes to their own gaming laws and on July 27th, the agreed to changes officially went into effect.  The changes are quite vast and wide-ranging.  For starters, Italian players can only play in tournaments because cash games are not permitted.  Also, players and the servers housing the games must both be within the country’s borders.  In addition, players’ time spent playing will be monitored with restrictions placed on how long per day they can play.

Though the Italian changes mark a move toward online poker regulations, the current governing rules are quite prohibitive.  It bears noting that PokerStars has a number of well-known Italian poker pros on their roster. It remains to be seen how the changes will impact their playing habits and ability to make a living.