Partypoker has been granted an Italian online gaming license and will now launch a full roster of MTTs and cash games within the localized market.
The announcement marks the end of a four-year absence from the Italian market, and comes at a time when online poker is riding high.
Due to new coronavirus pandemic forcing people to stay indoors, operators across the industry have reported a surge in traffic. Partypoker itself has reacted to the spike with plans to host online WPT events and a special edition of the Irish Poker Open.
With Italy one of the countries most affected by the coronavirus, Partypoker.it is entering the market at a unique time.
Unique Challenges Potentially Positive for Partypoker
The Italian license was activated on April 1 and, three days on, Partypoker’s Italian site is already up and running. Cash games, tournaments, and promotions such as Daily Prize Cards, are already available to real-money customers.
Partypoker’s roster of flagship MTTs will also be announced in the coming weeks, according to managing director Tom Waters.
Overall, returning to Italy is a positive for the site, though Waters was deliberately measured when providing comments to the press.
“Despite recent changes that restrict marketing in Italy, the poker market there remains an exciting opportunity for Partypoker,” Waters said in an April 2 press release.
The other issue facing Partypoker in Italy is a lack of liquidity sharing. Although it’s part of an agreement with France, Spain, and Portugal, Italy’s regulatory body has yet to make cross-border gaming a reality.
When it finally does join its counterparts, the four-nation network will be complete. Until then, players on Partypoker.it will only be able to compete against others based in Italy.
Coronavirus Turning More People Toward Online Gaming
Despite the potential hurdles, online poker activity around the world has peaked in recent weeks. What’s more, the Italian government has extended its lockdown laws after the number of coronavirus-related deaths hit 13,915.
Italians are locked down until Easter, at the earliest, even with the daily number of reported cases falling in recent days. Bars, restaurants, and the majority of stores have been closed for three weeks, and residents must stay home unless travel is essential.
Similar rules are in place across much of Europe, including in the UK where sites like Grosvenor Poker recently reported traffic spikes. Although the request to stay indoors isn’t a prompt to play online poker, the industry is benefitting.
This could bode well for Partypoker’s Italian venture in the coming weeks. What’s more, with WPTDeepStacks events developed for France and Spain, the ongoing lockdown opens the door for more nationalized MTT innovations in Italy.