Italy Issues Blanket Ban on Gambling Advertising, Sponsorships

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Effective January 1st, 2019, all forms of gambling advertising and sponsorships will be banned under Italian law. Gambling operators, media outlets, sport groups and event organizers are all required to follow the new Dignity Decree; failure to do so will result in administrative fines up to 5% of the value of the advertising or sponsorship, per violation. The government intends on issuing larger fines (up to $+/- $570,000) to those who advertise gambling services/products to kids. Deputy Prime Minister Luigi Maio has expressed intentions of lobbying the EU for a Union-wide ban.

Howie Long-Short: Gambling is synonymous with Italian futbol. Stadiums are named after gambling companies and gaming companies are represented on club kits as primary sponsors. To put the significance of this ban in perspective, Alun Bowden, Senior Consultant, Eilers & Krejcik Gaming called it, “by far the most significant thing to happen in online gambling this year and yes I include PASPA in that.”

The Italian government issued this ban to strengthen consumer protection laws and all money raised from fines paid will be invested into programs designed to fight gambling addiction, so while gaming operators (and their shareholders) are upset, they’re unlikely to find much sympathy from the public, here.

That will change though if Serie A clubs start to struggle financially, a likely outcome when club sponsorship deals expire (existing agreements can be fulfilled); gaming companies invest +/- $135 million/year in Series A sponsorships and Italian clubs (see: AC Milan, 2-year ban) are already struggling to meet UEFA Financial Fair Play rules.

Several Italian clubs are publicly traded including Juventus, AS Roma and Lazio.

Fan Marino: Maio won’t have to lobby hard in England, senior gaming execs (think: Philip Bowcock of William Hill, Peter Jackson of Paddy Power Betfair) there are already asking the government to implement regulations; concerned children are being subjected to far too many gambling-related ads on television (particularly, tied to sporting events). Of course, a blanket ban on advertising is beneficial to the giants of the industry as it becomes more difficult for small outfits to take mindshare.

It’s worth noting that Australia also now has a ban on gambling related advertisements during sporting events. While no ban is needed here yet, it’s easy to foresee one coming down the pike if the competition for legalized sports bettors begins to look like the infamous DFS competition of 2015. Perhaps the time is coming sooner than later, CBS is reportedly “all-in” on gambling related advertising.

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Author: John Wall Street

At the intersection of sports & finance.

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