Italy Tightens Gambling Advertising Rules

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This is the reposting of an article first appeared on gbgc.com (http://www.gbgc.com/2012/12/italy-tightens-gambling-advertising-rules)

Significant new barriers have been implemented by the Italian government against gambling advertising. The so called ‘Baduzzi’ decree lays down these restrictions. As Giulio Coraggio, Senior Associate at DLA Piper, specified*, “the decree banned any advertising aimed at “creating an incentive to gambling activity or to exalt the game”. This, when it is interpreted literally, could mean a practical ban on any ‘advertising campaign’. “Indeed, any ad of a gambling website per se encourages players to play on its platform and for instance the banner where a welcome bonus is promoted could be deemed to create an “incentive” to gambling.”

A fine in the case of a breach of these rules could be as much as €500,000. This obviously raises concerns in the industry as it may be applicable “against media owners on which the ads are shown. As a consequence, it is unlikely that any media owner (Google for instance) might accept to show a gambling ad without a prior favorable opinion of the Italian gambling regulator, AAMS.” Giulio expressed.

Giovanni Maria Riccio, Lawyer at Scorza Riccio & Partners (Rome, Italy), said* “I think that pathological gambling is a very important issue, but radical positions should be avoided (i.e. anti-gaming vs. pro-gaming). I agree with forbidding commercial communications for events where minors can be involved (e.g. commercials before movies), but the new law seems quite formalistic: for example, I sincerely doubt that the publication of payout percentages will prevent minors from playing. In my view, the State, rather than repressing activities which generate important economic benefits, should spread education about responsible gaming and train operators with a specialization on ludopathy [pathological gambling]. Higher fines are not the answer.”

The regulator for advertising in gambling will be the existing gambling regulator, AAMS. Giulio Coraggion commented* “a mere notification obligation of advertising campaigns was on operators, and therefore AAMS will all of a sudden have to decide on the legality of gambling ads without having any case law or precedents to rely on.”

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