The Italian government has moved closer to implementing its gambling advertising ban after approving a decree which now passes to the country’s Parliament.
Last month Italy's Deputy Prime Minister Luigi di Maio revealed that the country's new coalition government would launch a crackdown on gambling, starting with a ban on all forms of gambling advertising to protect players from addiction.
The proposed ban, which excludes existing advertising agreements, is one of a series of measures comprising the Decreto Dignità, or "dignity decree", which also aims to reduce bureaucracy for companies and prevent businesses that are supported by public funds from moving abroad.
The decree will become effective following publication in the Italian Official Gazette, which is expected to occur after ratification by Parliament within the next 60 days.
Italian operator association LOGiCO said it was perplexed by the proposed ban. The association explained that while it fully shared concerns about problem gambling, it does not believe that the ban will produce positive effects in terms of player protection or reduce the risks derived from unregulated gambling sites, which would still be able to advertise their services.
“Since its regulation, Italian online gaming has become a model of safe entertainment, supported by an unequaled regulatory structure in Europe,” said LOGiCO, whose members include The Stars Group, bwin, bet365, William Hill, Paddy Power Betfair, LeoVegas, Sky Bet and Kindred, among others.
“The increase in the number of players on digital channels is not, in fact, due to a "boom" of new players, but is the result of the combined effort of operators, the regulator and institutions to channel the game demand to the legal circuit that is strictly regulated and controlled.”
The association added that the creation of a regulated advertising market exclusively for licensed operators would contribute in a more decisive way to eliminating illegal operations.
“In the opinion of LOGiCO it would be advisable to further regulate, without canceling, this method of communication, with the introduction of an institution responsible for the control and mandatory verification of the advertisements conveyed.
“In the absence of advertising, the demand for gaming would be aimed at illegal operators aggravating the negative social and economic consequences of the game - especially the pathological one - as the player would be less guaranteed and protected, incurring a greater risk of fraud.
LOGiCO has proposed the introduction of a joint working group with the Italian regulator and other institutions, in order to discuss and adopt measures that would be more effective in protecting Italian players.
“Only by working with operators who have been operating in online gaming for a long time is it possible to achieve effective and rapid results in terms of responsible and safe gaming,” the trade association concluded.