Maarten Haijer, Secretary General of EGBA

EGBA: Italy’s €1bn black market loss should end Dignity Decree ad-ban 

The European Gaming & Betting Association (EGBA) is monitoring developments related to Italy’s online gambling marketplace being impacted by black market activities.

Concerns follow a recent investigation by La Gazzetta dello Sport, which documented that the total Italian wagers placed on the black market (land-based and online) are estimated at €25bn per year.

The report cited that of the estimated figure, €18.5bn was attributed to online wagers placed on unlicensed gambling websites.

Responding to the investigation, the EGBA estimates that “nearly €1bn in online gross gaming revenue in Italy is lost to black market websites annually, equivalent to the combined regulated online gambling revenue of eight other EU member states.”

The Brussels-based trade body, which promotes industry best practices and shared standards, comments on the current effectiveness of the Italian market in safeguarding national consumers from unprotected websites.

Italy’s Customs and Monopolies Agency (ADM), which governs Italian gambling, has undertaken a blocking order for “over 9,800 unlicensed gambling websites this year alone”.

This year alone, the ADM has blocked a further 400 unlicensed websites, highlighting the increasing scale of black market actors targeting Italian consumers. EGBA recognises that the Italian government is proceeding with a reorganisation of the existing gambling laws.

Sanctioned in August, the Parliament approved ‘phase-1’ of changes to existing gambling laws focused on ending licensing disputes, harmonising tax duties, and improving player protections in retail venues.

However, as it stands, the government has detailed no intent to rectify the Dignity Decree of 2018, which enforced a blanket ban on gambling advertising across Italian media and sports sponsorships.

EGBA maintains its stance against the Decree, as a harmful restriction that has aided black market operators in engaging with Italian audiences, whilst restricting licensed operators from promoting their legal services.

Commenting on developments, Maarten Haijer, Secretary-General of the EGBA said: “The significant size of Italy’s online black market is concerning, yet it is not surprising given that Italy has one of Europe’s strictest advertising regimes for its licensed gambling companies.

“The country’s ban on advertising for licensed gambling operators is clearly favoring the black market. Without a sufficient level of advertising, it is evident that enforcement action against black market operators is not sufficient, and that the government needs to revise its advertising rules for gambling to ensure Italian citizens are well-informed about the licensed websites in the country.”

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