Published: July 19, 2018

Google amends policy to comply with Italian ad ban

Google has already altered its policy page ensuring its conformity with Italy’s controversial ‘Dignity Decree’ law, which prohibits almost all forms of gambling advertising and sponsorship.

Google’s notice reminded operators that, as of the 16 July, “only state lotteries with deferred drawing will be allowed to run gambling advertisements in Italy.”

According to Italian news outlet Agimeg, Google’s notice has already seen local licensed operators drop down local search results, whilst international operators without a local licence have risen to the top.

The ‘Dignity Decree’ was approved by Italy’s Council of Ministers earlier this month, and will see a ban on all gambling ads on radio, internet and television, except for products and services run by the nation's state run lottery.

The bill is set to be voted on the 24 July by the House of Representatives, and if the bill is passed the law will come into force at the start of next year. It will allow companies with existing advertising agreements more time to comply with their contracts.

As expected, the new law has drawn condemnation from Italian operators with Microgame CEO, Massimiliano Casella, saying he is “astonished, embittered and worried about my employees, customers and users”.

He adds: "Our skills must and can be used for better regulation of the game. The doors in the face will not help the ludopadici (gambling addicts), neither a sector with many jobs nor the coffers of the state.”

The bill has been championed by Italian Deputy Prime Minister, Luigi Di Maio, and he believes that the ad ban will not have a negative effect on the gaming industry.

LOGiCO, the Italian trade body that represents online operators, said it was “perplexed” by the law. “LOGiCO does not believe that this ban can produce positive effects in terms of player protection or reduce, and certainly not eliminate, the risks deriving from an uncontrolled practice of the game itself,”

It is yet to be seen how the ban will affect operators that currently have partnerships or sponsorships agreements with Italian clubs.

On the announcement of Betway’s partnership with Italian club AS Roma, Betway CEO Anthony Werkman said in a statement to Gambling Insider: "Both parties are satisfied that it meets with all requirements of Italian law and it follows the Betway compliance-first model of market entry.

"In the longer term, we are happy to wait and see how the regulatory landscape evolves and will comply with whatever the laws stipulate.”

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