Italy’s gambling industry wasn’t happy to hear that the government is about to pass a ‘Dignity Decree’ that will change the way they go about doing business in the country. The Senate recently voted in favor of the Dignity Decree with a 155-125 that will prevent gambling operators in the country from advertising. It was first approved by the Council of Ministers on July 2nd before being passed through the house in a 312-190 vote that took place on August 2.
Online Gambling Industry Will Suffer
It was just a few months ago that Italian government officials hinted that the online gambling industry in the country could be on the upswing. Gaming regulators from France, Spain, Portugal and Italy had joined together in 2017 to enter into an online poker shared liquidity agreement that would enable all four countries to group their player pools and give their poker markets a much needed boost.
France, Spain and Portugal have already proceeded with their end of the agreement but Italy has lagged behind due to a number of reasons. The main reason was due to the elections as gaming analysts believe that a change in government could have a negative impact on the online poker agreement as well as the gambling industry.
It now looks like the Dignity Decree will be rolled out shortly and will result in a blanket ban that will prevent gambling operators from advertising. The will significantly impact the iGaming industry as it will limit operators from promoting their offerings and once again negatively impact online poker and online casino games in Italy.
Dignity Decree
The law aims to ban the advertising of all gambling products that give a player a chance to win money. Existing agreements and contracts will be honored until June 30th, 2019 when the gambling advertising ban will be in full force. As expected, this new law does not apply to the state-run lottery.
In a statement, Deputy Prime Minister Luigi Di Maio said “The disease of the game is an obstacle and my job is to eliminate it and we have identified the prohibition of advertising for the game as an instrument. We will not surrender.”
Di Maio claims that the social costs of gambling is at least equal to the amount of revenue that it generates. There are reports that Italy has around 1.3 million problem gamblers but just 12,000 are in treatment for their addiction.
Law Passed To Curb Problem Gambling
The government is concerned about the increase of problem gamblers in the country. By rolling out a ban on gambling advertisements the government is looking to curb the reach that gaming operators will have and in that sense limit the amount of customers that gambling operators cater to.
The UK has also seen an increase in problem gambling in recent years but has taken a different approach. The UK Gambling Commission and advertising watchdog have put in place stringent advertising regulations for gambling operators and are authorized to impose fines without limits on gaming operators who breach these advertising guidelines.
Italy has taken a more stern approach but it remains to be seen whether it is really productive. By restricting legalized gambling websites from advertising, their reach gets significantly reduced opening the market for illegal gambling operators to offer their services to the Italian market.
Gambling Operators Shortchanged
iPoker operators will feel the impact of this new law as the government is basically crippling them from advertising and promoting their services. Online poker operators will take a major hit as they will be limited from advertising online poker shared liquidity offers with France, Spain and Portugal.
The irony is that Italy has a regulated online gambling industry but is now preventing companies from relying on one of their most basic tools to bring in new customers and that is advertising. This ban will make new player acquisition difficult for iGaming operators in the country and once again slow down the grow of online gambling in Italy.
At the time of this writing, there has been no response from any of the major gaming operators in Italy. It will be interesting to see how they cope with the new advertising laws as it is clear that the government is not going to have a change of heart anytime soon.

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