The Most Popular Gambling Games in Rome

Italy has a very colourful history when it comes to gambling. One which had seen the games popular today in casinos around the world find their humble beginning in the towns and cities of ancient Italy. The Roman Empire’s quest to conquer also led to the unwitting spread of gambling games far and beyond Italian borders. 

The legionnaires were renowned for their gambling interests, where they would engage in numerous gambling games wherever the Empire placed them. As such, gambling games originating from Italy found their way to many casino floors. Oh, did you also know that the name ‘casino’ is also of Italian origin?

Ancient Roman Gambling Games

Numerous games have their origins in Italy, some of whose variations are played to this day. Games were played by the Empire’s soldiers and generals, from the nobles within private clubs to the average person to this day. The legionnaires’ eagerness to gamble saw them introduce and adopt games and spread them wherever they went.

The Italians’ passion for gambling would result in any game played being accompanied by a wager. Back in Ancient Rome, a firm favourite was named the “game of 12”, which shares some similarities with backgammon. If they were not betting on the horses, another favoured game was the “game of brigands”.

The first gambling establishment, Ridotto, opened its doors in 1638, only to close in 1774. Popular games in this establishment were Biribi and Bassett. Biribi was a board game that would be later banned in 1837 and played similarly to roulette. Bassett was a popular card game said to mix elements of poker, gin rummy, and blackjack. It would be replaced by faro which is played to this day. Some popular games also originated from Italy in the 1500s are bingo and baccarat.

Gambling dens have been a part of the Italian landscape for as long as can be remembered. Since the 1930s, gambling was legalised, but it was until 1948 that gambling was regulated under the Agenzia della’ Dogane e dei Monopoli which is the industry’s regulator.

There are five large licensed land-based casinos, with numerous licensed clubs which are set up for gambling activities. Online casinos must also be licensed with the national regulator to operate in Italy. Since Italy is a part of the European Union, the regulator must comply with EU gambling regulators, so by default, they also comply with EU regulations.

Online Slot Machines

Licensed online gambling in Italy generates revenue reaching billions of euros. Regulations allow for skill games, cash poker, bingo, horse pools, casino games, fixed odd and totalisator sports, horse and other events betting. Popular for Italian online players are bingo, poker, baccarat, and sportsbooks. 

With a passion for sports, online sportsbooks are favourite after bingo and baccarat. Online slots for money top the chart on games played as casinos can offer players all choices of slot machines here with real money winnings. Though gambling using cryptocurrencies is accessible on online casinos, this has not yet been regulated in the country.

Bingo and Lotteries

Bingo and Lottery have been a part of the gambling landscape for centuries. Lottery players commonly employ the practice of smorfia – a method used to pick a number based on dreams, news, or guidance from a gifted person.

Legalised back in 1955, the state-owned Lottoitalia is currently operated by SISAL and is said to have the highest jackpots with the lowest odds in the world. The highest European payout lottery jackpot won €209.1 million. In 2000 bingo gambling required licensing and was regulated. Currently, over 250 licensed bongo clubs are located in bingo halls in the country.

Table Games 

Table games are a large feature of gamblers in Italy. With some original Italian offerings and internationally recognised games, table games are available on their international standard onsite casinos and online sites.

Poker has gained much more popularity, with one onsite casino, Casino de la Velle, featuring craps at its establishment. The country would play host to poker tournaments, with Italy’s Dario Sammartino winning over $14.6 million from tournaments.

While roulette and blackjack remain favourites as well, there is Punto Banco or baccarat. The game will never fail to provide high-stakes wins or losses, much with some suspense. 


Italy has a long and exciting history of gambling. What is noticeable is their ability to be innovative and conjure up games that are being played to this very day. A passion for games fueled with an even greater love for betting on favourite football clubs. A passion that would see much resort to trickery and scheming just to secure a win or a prize.

Responsible gambling remains a high priority for the regulator. Way to deter problematic gambling, BetOnMath is a program introduced in school that shows how the gambling industry operates. This is aimed at dispelling any illusions for future want-to-be gamblers.

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