After months of discussions, the Italian Government has finally adopted the so called Balduzzi decree introducing gambling advertising regulations.
The decree is relevant for both the land-based and the online gaming sector and rather than banning any type of gambling advertising as initially planned introduces provisions prohibiting gambling advertising on the press, TV, radio and the Internet that can “create an incentive to the gambling activity or to exalt games”, shows minors, is contained in TV or other programs dedicated to young people and does not adequately informs players of the risks associated with gambling and the percentage of pay-out.
The wording of the provisions mentioned above generates some concerns as it is very broad – e.g. any gaming ad of a gambling site encourages to gamble – and in absence of clear guidelines from AAMS, operators risk to face fines up to € 500K without having a clear understanding of the regulatory framework. However, the good news is that such provisions will come into force from January 2013 and therefore operators have still time to obtain clarifications.
The scenario in the land-based sector looks even more uncertain as – apart from the need to place adequate warnings on the machines and the clear prohibition of access by minors to gaming halls, betting shops and bingo halls – the decree prescribes 5,000 inspections of gaming halls and a transitional plan aimed at placing gaming halls far from schools, hospitals and religious locations. However, it is unclear how this plan will be put in place and whether this is compliance with the decision of the European Court of Justice on the Costa Cifone case that had challenged any discrimination of operators based on the location of betting shops.
The decree will come into force shortly but shall be ratified (and potentially amended) by the Parliament in the next 60 days. In the meantime if you want to discuss its implications for your business, feel free to contact me, Giulio Coraggio.