Gambling in Italy was legalized step by step by the State Monopoly in 2000 with further liberalization opening up the market. Today, the Italian government licences a range of betting forms from poker to bingo and from slot machines to fixed odds sports betting.
The legalization of betting was welcomed by the public and the rapid growth of gambling arcades has been accompanied by an equivalent rise in online gambling as well. One of the biggest players in the betting amusements market worldwide is NOVOMATIC.
The Austrian company was founded by the billionaire Johann Graf in 1980 and now has offices in 43 countries around the world and global revenues of over three billion EUR. Its activities in the Italian market are overseen by NOVOMATIC Italia SpA.
“The company was established in Italy ten years ago, just as Italy was relaxing its laws governing the operation of slot machines and amusement machines,” says CEO Massimo Ruta. “Since then, we have grown steadily and constantly.”
NOVOMATIC is a vertically integrated gaming operation with activities in machine design and manufacture as well as amusement arcade management. “We manage and have access to the entire value chain which gives us unparalleled control of all aspects of our business,” says Mr. Ruta. “It also gives us a unique insight into our client’s requirements and the preferences of the people playing our games.”
NOVOMATIC has 150 amusement arcades throughout Italy where gamers can play a variety of entertainment devices, slot machines and video games.
“Our bestselling VLTs and slots game is the Book of Ra which is the most popular casino game we make and the one with which we are synonymous,” says Communications and Corporate Responsibility Manager Angela Oliva. “It is a worldwide success and can be played both on machines in amusement arcades and online.”
Book of Ra takes players on a journey of exploration through the mysterious world of ancient Egypt as they search for a mythological book that brings untold wealth to the owner. The classic version of the game was released in March 2005 and a deluxe version was released in April 2008.
The latest version, Book of Ra Deluxe 6, was released in August 2015. It features six reels and up to ten paylines. While Book of Ra remains NOVOMATIC’s most popular slots game, the company offers a full range of gaming terminals and video lottery machines.
Worldwide, the NOVOMATIC Group operates more than 235,000 gaming terminals. The company is seen as a pioneer in the gaming technology market and invests heavily in research and development each year. “NOVOMATIC is Europe’s undisputed number one in high-tech gaming technology,” says Mr. Ruta.
One of the latest innovations from the company is Phoenix™, a new slots game with five reels and 50 paylines. “It has been developed in response to customer feedback and offers a gaming experience tailored to their preferences,” adds Mr. Ruta. NOVOMATIC is currently launching a new self-service betting terminal for the fixed odds betting market.
“With just 40 betting shops in Italy this is one area where we are not yet the biggest player in the Italian market,” says Mr. Ruta. “However, it also means that there is plenty of potential for growth and we will be focusing our attention in the next few years on increasing our presence in this market.”
Another under-represented corner of the gaming market from NOVOMATIC’s point of view is the bingo market. The company operates six bingo halls in Italy and is also keen to see this number grow in the near future. The gaming industry is worth billions worldwide and one of its challenges is how to promote a responsible attitude.
“One of the keys to NOVOMATIC’s success and something that sets it apart is our approach to responsible gaming,” says Ms. Oliva. “Despite legalization, we are still subject to strict regulations and have a responsibility to identify problem gamblers visiting our establishments. This is a responsibility that we take very seriously.”
Gaming is very much seen as entertainment which must be paid for just like any other form of amusement, and NOVOMATIC works hard to offer its customers value for money. NOVOMATIC has helped bring gaming and gambling into the acceptable mainstream and even boasts former Formula One driver Niki Lauda as its brand ambassador.
“A key area for expansion is the online gaming arena,” says Mr. Ruta. “Online casinos, betting shops and bingo sites are rising in popularity as more people use smart phone technology to access sites. We see the Italian market growing rapidly in the next five to six years as further deregulation expands opportunities. Our aim is to broaden our network. At NOVOMATIC the sky’s the limit.”
With its positive attitude and ambitious aims, gambling on the future success of NOVOMATIC Italia seems like a sure bet.