The Italian government’s new ‘Dignity Decree’ will result in a complete Italy gambling ad ban, and will block all commercial gambling advertisements on TV, radio and the internet starting January 1st.

State-sponsored lotteries have claimed yet another jurisdictional advantage on the gambling regulatory front. Earlier this week, the Italian Parliament approved a Dignity Decree that will effectively ban all commercial gambling advertisements in Italy, starting January 1st.

Aside from annexed health warnings on some products and marketing, the Italian Lottery (SuperEnalotto) is set to be exempt from the rules which will also result in an outright elimination of Serie A soccer league sponsorship opportunities for both clubs and players.

Spokespeople from the European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA) and La Lega Operatori di Gioco (LOGiCO) have made public statements against the regulatory measure, which EGBA Secretary General Maarten Haijer warns will result in €120 million per year in lost sponsorship revenue for teams.

LOGiCO, which counts operators such as William Hill, Bet365, The Stars Group, and The Kindred Group among its members, submitted a response letter to Italian officials late last month outlining the unintended consequences of such regulation.

A ban will push more consumers to unregulated websites that do not protect them,” the communication states. “Without advertising, black market gambling will only increase. It will increase because Italian consumers will not be informed or directed to those websites that are licensed in Italy and away from those that are not.”

The legislation has already impacted Google search results according to EGR Global (paywall) contributor Brad Allen, who reports that “the new Italian gambling advertising ban is pushing the websites of unlicensed international operators up search rankings at the expense of operators who are licensed in Italy.”

The Italy gambling ad ban story has received additional social media commentary over the weekend from Nick Jones of operator-focused subscription news service Poker Industry PRO, who provides coverage for jurisdictional-based regulated iGaming markets throughout the world.

SuperEnalotto products will have “cigarette-packed style health warnings.”

Black market gambling ads gain search results advantages.

Could Italy Gambling Ad Ban Spread to Other Countries?

Italy Gambling Ad Ban - Peter Jackson

Paddy Power Befair CEO Peter Jackson

Momentum to impose a similar strike against gambling ads is gaining steam in the country of Ireland, where Dublin-based Paddy Power Betfair CEO Peter Jackson spoke on the topic in a recent earnings call.

We’d like to see some progress made on the [Ireland Gambling Control] Bill,” said the former Worldpay and Banco Santander executive. “Some countries chose to put in place very restrictive legislation. We’ve just seen in Italy, where advertising is effectively going to be banned. I’m not sure that necessarily is the right answer.

Separately, there is mounting editorial pressure to further restrict gambling ads to children in the UK, where The Guardian columnist Rob Davies reports that a growing amount of regulators believe gambling ads are “out of control.”

Italy Gambling Ad Ban

Philip Bowcock – William Hill CEO

William Hill CEO Philip Bowcock was quoted in the article, expressing that “some sort of change is needed, but that has to be led by government. It’s incumbent on them to step up to the plate and have a serious discussion about it.”

Offshore Gambling Operators and Government Regulations

The Italy gambling ad ban brings the ongoing battle between formally licensed and offshore operators to the forefront of industry rhetoric once again.

In some industry stakeholders’ view, certain country and statewide gambling regulations could be perceived to unintentionally foment offshore marketing outreach while enforcing significant monetary restrictions on the very operators whose success states depend on for licensed, taxable revenue.

Such a scenario is playing out in various regions throughout the world, including the U.S. regulated statewide gambling marketplace — which is gearing up for what could be a years-long, maniacally competitive campaign for new customers as lawmakers struggle to curb unlicensed gambling activity.

The May 2018 U.S. Supreme Court decision to lift statewide sports betting restrictions may present a number of “upside opportunities” for operators, but the initial start-up costs of moving into newly-regulated statewide markets will be massive, prompting many analysts to speculate that more industry Mergers & Acquisitions could be imminent.

In the meantime, a recent study conducted in Australia by The Conversation suggests that “education, not restriction” is vital to reducing offshore gambling harm.

Part Time Poker will continue to monitor information related to the Italy gambling ad ban and provide follow-up reports to our readers as news develops.

Read More Gambling Industry News Reports

UK Online Gambling Regulations and Influencer Marketing FAQs (Jul 4, 2018)
Arkansas Casino Petition and Rising Lobbyist Costs (Jul 13, 2018)
WSOP Main Event Entry Pool Rises 9% in 2018 (Jul 5, 2018)
French Regulators Sidestep Video Game Lootbox Determination (Jul 9, 2018)
Poker News Summary for July 2018 (Jul 30, 2018)

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