The European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA) has voiced its opposition to the proposed gambling advertising ban in Italy, warning that it will only serve to benefit unlicensed operators.
Responding to the progress of legislation that will ban all gambling advertising in the country except for the national lottery, the industry association warned that Italian consumers would continue to be exposed to gambling advertising by illegal operators.
The EGBA said that it questions the practicality of introducing a total ban on advertising due to the cross-border nature of the internet and television, which means that Italian citizens will continue to see gambling advertising, except that those ads will advertise websites that are not licensed in Italy.
It added that the ban would also negatively impact Italian sport, which receives approximately €120m a year in sponsorship revenue from the gambling industry.
"This sponsorship is important to these teams and will be put in jeopardy," warned the EGBA. "That is why we have already seen a strong reaction from the Serie A to the proposal."
"One of the important benefits of gambling advertising is that it directs Italian customers towards those gambling operators who are licensed to operate and comply with the rules in Italy," EGBA secretary general Maarten Haijer explained. "Without advertising black market gambling will increase – with customers accessing websites which are not licensed in Italy and operate outside the regulated framework, including the legal protective safeguards for consumers. No other country in Europe currently bans gambling advertising precisely for this very reason."
He added that while the EGBA fully supports measures to clamp down on irresponsible gambling advertising in order to protect consumers, it believes that a total advertising ban is counterproductive.
"The government should instead focus on encouraging responsible gambling advertising which sufficiently directs consumers to the regulated operators and at the same time does not entice problem gamblers or young people to gamble," Haijer concluded.
The decree banning gambling advertising has been approved by the government and awaits ratification by the Italian parliament.