AGCOM, Italy’s communications and media authority has written a letter to the Lega-5Star coalition government stating that the Dignity Decree ban on gambling advertising should be formally reviewed.
As the regulatory department tasked with monitoring licensed incumbents advertising behaviour under the Decree’s regime, AGCOM governance has warned Lega-5Star that its ban on gambling advertising is ‘unconstitutional and incompatible’ with Italian business laws.
Stating its case, AGCOM details that the Decree’s mandate ‘harms Italian gambling concessionaires’, and further creates an unbalanced marketplace for new incumbents that may have recently acquired gambling licences.
A scathing review of the advertising ban, which was officially enforced on 14 July, sees AGCOM further criticise Lega-5Star’s strict discipline code, which sees operators risk fines equal to 20% of the sponsorship/advertising value, priced at no less than‘€50,000 for each Decree-law breached’.
The media agency labels the advertising penalty charges as “disproportionate and contradictory”, which cannot be justified against operators that have been qualified by the Italian state to offer gambling services.
AGCOM further warns coalition ministers, that the advertising ban may blur the marketplace for consumers, as approved operators will be treated like unlicensed actors, with Italy’s gambling market requiring a level of distinction to protect players.
Previous data published by AGCOM, details that the advertising ban will lead to an expected ‘€100 million decline in advertising revenues’ for TV, press and media stakeholders who have formally called on Lega-5Star to undertake a ‘reality check’ of its Decree mandate.
Detailing contingencies, AGCOM calls for the coalition to distinguish advertising laws based on different forms of gambling and services offered by licensed operators, establishing a ‘marketing criteria based on levels of risk’, rather than Lega-5Star’s all-out blanket ban.
Moving forward, AGCOM governance urges the coalition government to focus on reforming Italy’s gambling framework as the ”the most suitable and effective tool to tackle problem gambling, whilst respecting private economic initiative”
Responding to AGCOM’s notice, Luigi Di Maio leader of 5Star and author of the Decree’s betting advertising ban, would state on his Facebook page that leadership changes at AGCOM would be sanctioned in the near future.
“This September, we’ll replace the Authority board: in which country a Government prohibits the gaming advertising and an Authority can allow it?” reads Di Maio’s Facebook update.
Despite AGCOM’s plea, any review of the Decree’s advertising ban remains a distant prospect, as Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte and Di Maio have agreed to appoint the media agency’s next chairman… Put simply betting incumbents will have to live with the Decree as a market reality.
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