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EGBA and LOGiCO: Italy’s Gambling Advertising Ban “Will Have a Counterproductive Effect”

The European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA) and the Italian Online Gaming Association (LOGiCO) sent a joint letter to Italian ministers in hopes to overturn a proposed and much-supported blanket ban on all forms of gambling advertising in the country.

The letter, published on EGBA’s official website, arrived ahead of today’s planned debate on the proposed prohibition. The ban is part of the so-called Dignity Decree, a legislative piece introduced by Italy’s newly-sworn Deputy Prime Minsiter Luigi Di Maio. Minister Di Maio has previously said that the main purpose of a full ban on gambling advertising would be to protect vulnerable people from being overexposed to gambling.

The Minister has also recently said that the proposed crackdown on adverts would be the first step in a larger-scale initiative against the proliferation of gambling in the country. The Dignity Decree was approved by the Council of Ministers earlier this month and legislators are now working on its many provisions until a final version is produced and adopted.

EGBA and LOGiCO have been among the staunchest opponents of the proposed gambling advertising ban since day one and their joint letter from this weekend comes as another manifestation of their efforts to prevent Minister Di Maio’s proposal from taking effect. Here it is important to note that the blanket ban is expected to partially take effect from January 1, 2019 and to come fully into force from 2020.

Arguments against the Ban

In their joint letter, the full text of which could be found here, EGBA and LOGiCO point out that while they understand and support the responsible gambling and customer protection concerns behind the proposed ban, they believe it could actually produce the exact opposite effect.

The two associations explain that the ability to advertise their products and services across Italian media is among the main advantages licensed operators have over their black market counterparts. With regulated companies being prevented from promoting their offering, the black market is only expected to grow and lure customers. Local players and bettors will thus be exposed to questionable practices by some black market operators and their activities will not be overseen by gambling regulators and providers of health care, the letter reads.

Instead of implementing a full ban on gambling adverts, EGBA and LOGiCO propose a crackdown on “irresponsible gambling advertising” so that customers are protected effectively. The two associations believe that in this way minors and vulnerable people will be prevented from being overexposed to gambling but the “counterproductive effect” of a blanket ban would be avoided.

The introduction of measures against socially irresponsible advertising should be “based on scientific studies and research” the two organizations advise, citing the UK Gambling Commission’s Young People and Gambling report as an approach that could be adopted in Italy.

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