Football Betting In Italy: A Brief History


To say Italy has a long history of gambling and betting would be an understatement. In fact, wagering on various games goes all the way back to Roman times when authorities would place their bets on popular events! Since then, gambling and sports betting have undergone a notable transformation; these days, many people juggle the odds by searching for a real money online casino (definitely check it out here) or place their football bets online. So, from the first bets by Roman legionnaires to the diverse online market of football betting, keep reading for a brief history of football betting and gambling in Italy.

When Did Gambling Start In Italy?

It’s hard to pinpoint exactly when gambling started in the country, however, there is proof that many Roman legionnaires enjoyed the game of “Baccarat” when they weren’t in combat. This then moved onto the game of “Biribi” which can loosely be compared to the modern-day lottery, before the game of “Betta” became a popular pastime for Roman soldiers. In terms of the first Italian casino, we can journey back to 1638, when the first commercial casino in the world, “Ridotto,” was opened in Italy’s own Venice. However, unlike the casinos in Italy today, “Ridotto” was only used by the upper class. This was because the stakes were so high, that only the wealthy could afford to place wagers.

The Influence Of Bookmakers

Bookmakers, or more favourably known as “bookies,” are people who place real odds bets by compiling a “book” of possible scenarios that will result in profit – if properly balanced. Perhaps unsurprisingly, early bookies were frequently unlicensed, so it remained the responsibility of the Italian legislation tax regime to impose strict gambling regulations. As a result, bookies could only practice on approved tracks and courses. Some would say that bookmakers were pioneers when it came to football betting, insomuch that they encouraged fans to gamble modestly in order to add higher stakes to their favourite game of football.

Gambling VS The Internet

The creation of the internet turned the gambling world in Italy upside down. Now, you could place sports bets on your own PC, rather than visiting a brick-and-mortar store to place your wager. Being able to gamble online also opened up a whole new variety of wager options and different online bookmakers than those who stood outside the football stadiums waiting for you to go in. While Italian football fans could place their bets on country favourites Juventus and AC Milan, internet gambling meant they were now also exposed to gambling markets from further afield; the internet made it possible to wager on international teams, too.

The Sports Betting Industry In Italy Now

Today, Italy is the fourth biggest market for sports betting in the world. The industry has undergone a major transformation, including changes to regulations in various Italian regions and a skyrocketing boost in the number of Italians who partake in gambling regularly in the country. These transformations are no doubt seen in the fact that Italy now accounts for 10% of the market size in the Europe region. While new safety measures and regulations have encouraged Italian fans to gamble responsibly, there have also been a few scandals in the sports betting industry, too; some players have frequently come under scrutiny for illegal gambling in the country. Aside from a few gambling misconducts, the history of gambling and football betting in Italy is a fascinating tale indeed. Starting from an infrequent pastime by Roman soldiers waiting to go back into battle, to a regular activity played by thousands of Italians across the country, it’s very clear that sports betting in Italy is here to stay.


Serie A obsessive.