Italy has prioritized protection from addiction through a strict ban on gambling advertisements.
The Dignity Decree
Written by Deputy Prime Minister Luigi Di Maio and set to kick in January 1st of next year, the Dignity Decree containing the ban was approved by the Italian Council of Ministers.
Article 8 bans all forms of gambling product and gambling service advertisement across all media outlets, including television, radio, and the Internet, including sporting, cultural, and entertainment events.
Sponsorship on the Way Out
The ban will also apply to sports sponsorships, with football and other clubs advertising gaming related sponsors on the pitch and uniforms until now, and sports betting being a major component of fan engagement in Italy just as in other countries.
Preventative, Proactive Approach
Minister Di Maio described his office’s official stance of motivation for the law as driven by the goal of and need for reducing problem gambling rates in the country.
National lotteries and products will be excluded, while a temporary stay will be applied to existing advertising contracts until expiration to provide gambling companies with sufficient time to prepare for the advertising ban, with so many of those operators relying on advertising to compete and stay viable.
The Italian ban will mark the first time a European company bans gambling advertising outright, with Minister Di Maio previous vowing to continue to lobby for heavier gambling restrictions across the whole of Europe.
Despite fair warning, the gambling industry is scrambling to work minimize the impact of the ban. LeoVegas Italy Managing Director Niklas Lindahl said in a recent open letter to Minister Di Maio that the black market will be the biggest beneficiary of the absolute ban by being able to lure customers more easily.
Di Maio Counter Argument
Di Maio rebuffed the Lindahl’s position by saying that the ban would actually serve to reduce the overall number of gamblers in the country in general, protecting them from promotional content preying on their weaknesses.
With an estimated 1 million Italians addicted to gambling or exhibiting symptoms of problem gambling behaviour, the Minister may have a point, but the results of the ban itself and not the vote are more likely to shape EU policy moving forward regardless of where it originated or by whom.