Italy’s igaming sector could be in for a shock if a draft bill to ban all online gaming and betting advertising goes ahead in the coming months.
The proposed ban follows a draft of regulatory reforms that have seen new igaming and igaming products introduced into the market over the past three years, while most recently the Italian government rubber-stamped a number of key regulatory and tax changes that were deemed broadly favourable to the sector.
For Valérie Peano, a Rome-based gambling lawyer at EGLA, the proposal is the result of a backlash by conservative groups in Parliament against the recent measures pushed through by the government, which have led to more competition and increased advertising from operators and gaming exposure for consumers.
She told iGaming Business: “Should the bill pass as it is, the future of any form of commercial communications to promote the gambling services of a licensed operator in Italy would be heavily compromised and this would damage especially the igaming sector. This is because unlike the offline offer, it would miss out on the possibility to differentiate itself from the illegal online gambling offer.
“In its recommendation on common principles for the protection of consumers and players of online gambling services and for the prevention of minors, the EU Commission recognised expressly that commercial communication of online gambling services can play an important role in ‘directing consumers to the regulated offer’. Hopefully, operators and relevant gambling associations will be ready to complain and push the EU Commission for an infringement procedure towards Italy for noncompliance with the EU legislation.”
The EU Commission may decide to send a formal request for information to Italy on the national legislation restricting the commercial communications to verify whether these measures are compatible with EU Treaty principles, notably freedom of services.
Italy would be compelled to demonstrate the advertising ban is necessary, proportionate and non-discriminatory and pursue public interest objectives of safeguarding health and preventing compulsive or excessive gambling in a consistent and systematic manner.
The proposal would only be debated after the Summer recess but an advertising ban for gaming companies would apply across all media platforms and would have a dramatic impact on licensed operators if it were to get through the political process.
source : www.igamingbusiness.com