Italian Deputy Prime Minister Says Ads Ban Is First Step in Larger Gambling Clampdown
Gambling is a growing social and cultural issue that is devastating Italian society, the country’s Deputy Prime Minister Luigi Di Maio said Thursday in another wave of negative comments directed toward Italy’s gambling industry.
Minister Di Maio visited the Citadel of Catholic charity Caritas that, among other activities, is known to be working with people suffering from gambling addiction.
The politician was actually the person who spearheaded the so-called Dignity Decree in the Italian legislature. The legislative piece contained a proposal for the implementation of a full ban on all forms of gambling advertising across Italian media. The Council of Ministers voted through the decree earlier this month and it is now expected to take effect January 1, 2019.
The reform aims to prevent more people from being overexposed to gambling and fall victim to addiction. The Dignity Decree stirred great controversy in the gambling industry, as licensed Italy-facing operators argued that the right to advertise their products through different channels was one of their main advantages over black market businesses. Companies further noted that unlicensed operations would benefit the most from the advertising ban as it would make it easier for them to target Italian customers.
In his latest verbal attack against the country’s gambling industry, Minister Di Maio further stressed that gambling operations were not just a social plague but also an economic one. According to the high-ranking politician, companies providing gambling services annually rake in billions that would have otherwise gone into the country’s coffers.
Italy’s gambling industry has grown significantly over the past decade. According to information from the country’s gambling regulator, Agenzia delle Dogane e dei Monopoli (ADM), regulated operations generated revenue before tax of nearly €19.5 billion in 2016 and contributed the amount of €10.5 billion to the country’s coffers, up from tax revenue of €6.7 billion in 2006.
Minister Di Maio further said yesterday that the introduction of a full ban on gambling advertising was just the first step of a larger crackdown on the provision of gambling services in Italy. The Minister said that the country’s new government would also look to curb on the growing number of gaming machines across the nation. There have also been reports that online gambling will, too, be affected by planned reforms in the current regulatory framework.
The Italian Deputy Prime Minister admitted that he has not seen representatives of the industry yet, but encouraged them to reach out with comments regarding the newly introduced reform. Gambling operators will also be able to ask for hearings before lawmakers, Minister Di Maio added.
According to global measurement firm, Italy’s advertising industry could lose between €40 million and €50 million in 2019 as a result from the implementation of the gambling ban.
News emerged earlier this week that Google AdWords has banned advertisers from promoting gambling services and products in Italy to comply with the new ban, even though it has not taken effect officially. The changes in Google’s policy would not affect advertisers targeting countries where gambling-related ads are allowed.