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Italian Gambling Operators Ready for the New Advertising Rules

Italy Gambling

Gambling operators in Italy are gearing up for the new gambling advertising ban in the country. The prohibition will come with some flexibility related to affiliate marketing and search engine optimization. AGCOM, the telecom watchdog of the country released details related to the new advertising policy last Friday. The new measures are less punitive than the ones proposed in the Dignity Decree.

The new advertising standards will come into force on July 14. The policy guidelines formalize previously announced plans to ban all direct promotions of gambling via broadcast media. It will also include text message promos and online banner ads. Even sponsorship of sports teams and events is under moratorium. The regulator has cracked down heavily on stealth promotional campaigns like distribution of branded products, media advertorials and even social media influencers spreading the brand message.

Operators will be allowed to use indexing services so their domains can pop up when users look for relevant terms using a search engine. Operators are also allowed to promote charitable and social initiatives. However, they will not contain any logos or inducements to gamble. Operators who advertise the potential negative effects of their gambling products will also be exempted from this rule.

Third-party affiliates can continue using the brand names of gambling operators in limited capacities. The affiliates can compare odds on different operators on sporting events, compare bonus offers, detail the odds of winning a sporting contest, etc. All their content should allow users to make “informed choices.”

Retail betting shops can continue displaying their signage as long as they are displaying brand logos. They cannot include gambling inducing messages. Land-based casino operators can continue marketing with relative impunity. AGCOM can slap operators with a fine of up to 20% of the value of the advertising/sponsorship contract. The fine will be limited to €50k per incident.

Gaming attorney Stefano Sbordini commented on the cautious reactions of the Italian gambling industry and called it a “work-in-progress.” He suggested that the regulator will provide further clarifications on some of the points before the July 14 deadline for compliance arrives.

LeoVegas’s CEO of online casino, Niklas Lindahl, praises the AGCOM for their efforts. He credited them for leaving some wiggle room for operators, especially for SEO. Lindahl noted that the Dignity Decree could have risked the Italian gambling sector as well as its communication, sports, and journalism industry. He went on to call it a time bomb for the Italian economy.

LeoVegas had filed a legal challenge to the Dignity Decree at the European Commission last year. Lindahl hoped that the Italian government would rethink its restrictive measures. He thinks that these measures will only make local operators lose market share to international sites.

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