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Ladbrokes Enters Booming Italian Online Poker Market

22nd December 2009 8:22 am GMT

Following licence approval from Italian regulator Amministrazione Autonoma dei Monopoli di Stato (AAMS), UK bookmaker Ladbrokes has announced it will launch a new dedicated Italian online poker service next month as the company looks to gain a significant share of the booming poker business in Italy.

The new service will offer a range of Texas Hold'em poker tournaments at launch, available only to Italian players in accordance with local regulations.

The move into Italy will see Ladbrokes compete against a number of new operators in the lucrative market including PartyGaming, Virgin Games, and BetClic as well as industry leaders PokerStars, bwin's Gioco Digitale and Microgame. Turnover for Italy's online poker market is expected to top €2 billion this year (more).

New regulations to allow cash poker games and casino gaming will also further open up the gaming market in Italy, with Ladbrokes planning to launch Italian online casino and bingo services in the months ahead. The company launched its licensed Italian sportsbook last year, which now has over 35,000 registered customers.

"We are committed to expanding the international reach of our online business and Italy is an excellent regulated market opportunity," said Christopher Bell, Ladbrokes' Chief Executive. "We hope that further positive changes in regulations in Italy will allow us to further expand our product range by launching cash games in poker, as well as bingo and casino gaming later this year."

Earlier this year Ladbrokes announced plans to sell its Italian retail betting shop business following lower than expected revenue growth. The company said that it would instead focus all of its attentions on an online gaming offering in Italy.

Shares in Ladbrokes plc (Co. Profile) (LSE:LAD) are currently trading at 137.50 pence per share in London this morning.

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