Italy punishes several well-known companies for gambling advertising

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Home » Italy punishes several well-known companies for gambling advertising

In 2018, a law was passed in Italy that bans gambling advertising of any kind. This advertising ban includes not only TV commercials and corresponding ads in newspapers and magazines. Also affected is the internet, as no advertising for gambling and sports betting is allowed there either. At the same time, Italy has banned not only gambling advertising of any kind, but also sponsorship. This is because sponsorship is also a form of advertising. Popular athletes, for example, wear jerseys that refer to casinos and sports betting. The same applies to banners that are hung up in stadiums.

All of this is prohibited, which is why no advertising is allowed to appear on the Internet. However, not everyone abides by the law. YouTube, for example, has done nothing about the fact that numerous gambling advertisements have been published. According to the law, it would have been their duty to take action against this. After YouTube did not comply with this duty and did not remove the advertising, this group was punished by the Italian government. A fine of 750,000 euros was imposed for the alleged offense. Experts expect that the parent company Google will defend itself against this. The group already had success with this a few years ago.

Google already punished in 2020

The YouTube video platform belongs to Google, which is why the group’s behavior is surprising. After all, the Italian government already imposed a penalty on Google in 2020. At that time, the problem was that not only advertising for online casinos could be seen via Google Ads. At the same time, a link appeared that led to the registration page of the online casino in question. This was the reason why Google was fined an unknown amount. At the time, it was suspected that a fine of up to 100,000 euros could be imminent. Thus, the corporation was still lucky, as it is generally not prohibited to list online casinos in search results.

What is prohibited in Italy, however, is the presentation of gambling providers via Google Ads. This is deliberate advertising. Although the law offers clear explanations here, the company got away with its complaint in court and ultimately did not have to pay a fine after all. However, the Italian government was successful with its action, as according to the media, all legal providers had decided to no longer publish advertising via Google Ads. In doing so, they pre-empted the new Italian draft law, according to which gambling services in general are to be curbed.

Another company punished

Italy is currently taking strict action against all companies that violate current laws and bills. For this reason, it has not only hit Google, but also the online advertising marketer Top ADS. This company has also seemingly offered the chance for gambling companies to place online advertisements. What detailed infringement is involved here has not been revealed so far. However, several media reports indicate that this company is also facing a fine of 700,000 euros. Accordingly, this is also a strong violation.

It is not possible to say for which casino and, above all, how long the forbidden advertising was seen. However, since both penalties are similarly high, the advertising on Top ADS will probably have been visible for a longer period of time. With such behavior, the new Italian target can hardly be achieved: Italy has created a bill that will put more focus on gambling addicts and protect the entire population.

1.5 million gambling addicts in Italy

The draft law, published just this year, aims to prevent even more people from becoming addicted to gambling. There are currently 1.5 million people in Italy who are addicted to gambling. Another 1.4 million are said to be on the verge of developing a gambling addiction. Apart from the people who are addicted to gambling, there are other people affected. These include, for example, family, other relatives and friends. In order to protect everyone from the financial consequences of a gambling addiction, the new draft law was developed. Among other things, it provides for a reduction in the amount of gambling on offer. In any case, a positive effect cannot be expected if advertising continues.

This is one of the reasons why the Italian government is taking such strict action and imposing heavy penalties for every violation. However, the draft law does not only refer to online gambling for which the above-mentioned advertising has been broadcast. First and foremost, the individual regions are to be included, after land-based gambling is still allowed to be regulated by the regions themselves. It is important, he said, that there be one law for the entire country, resulting in uniform regulations.

Penalty to be set by AGCOM

Compared to the US, it is easy for Italy to issue a penalty against Internet providers and Google. In this country, there is no gambling regulator responsible for monitoring and penalizing gambling providers. Rather, it is the responsibility of the national communications regulator (AGCOM) to monitor compliance with current laws in the field of telecommunications. Thus, violations by Internet providers and large corporations such as Google and YouTube fall within AGCOM’s scope. In 2018, Google generated revenues of nearly $137 billion. The company managed to do this with numerous subsidiaries that are not always related to the Internet. If it does, and if this operates in Italy, this subsidiary must also pay attention to the advertising ban. Otherwise, the next case of a penalty could soon be on the table. Italy has also recently taken tough action against eSports halls.

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