Is the Italian gambling advertising ban against new AVMSD rules?

The upcoming European Audiovisual Media Services Directive (AVMSD) takes a position against gambling advertising bans, raising the chances of success of current challenges against the Italian ban. 

The draft AVMSD and the Italian gambling advertising ban

The Italian gambling advertising ban is one of the hottest topics at the moment and the potential arguments against its legality are an even hotter topic. The debate might be even further animated by the upcoming new European media rules.

Indeed, as previously mentioned by Tommaso Ricci in this blog post, on 2 October 2018 the final text of the updated EU Audiovisual Media Services Directive was finally adopted by the EU Parliament.

The AVMSD is meant to set new media rules, but what matters for our purposes is that it provides the following:

Measures taken by a Member State to enforce its national consumer protection regime, including in relation to gambling advertising, would need to be justified, proportionate to the objective pursued, and necessary as required under the Court’s case-law. In any event, a receiving Member State must not take any measures which would prevent the re-transmission, in its territory, of television broadcasts coming from another Member State.

The main points of the AVMSD applied to a gambling advertising ban are:

  • It is further emphasized that gambling advertising rules need to be justified, proportionate and necessary, while a total ban of gambling advertising cannot meet any of those criteria; and
  • The ban cannot apply to for instance the broadcasting of soccer matches occurring in a different EU Member State where for instance gambling ads might be on the shirts of players or on the sides of the pitch.

What will be the outcome of the battle on the Italian gambling advertising ban

The fight against the Italian gambling advertising ban is ongoing before European authorities. Also, the Italian Communications Authority that is in charge with the enforcement of the ban is currently running investigations. But it is unclear what outcome they might lead in relation to provisions that face such a high risk of lack of compliance with EU laws and principles of the Italian Constitution.

Hopefully, a solution will be found before July 2019 when the ban will be actually fully into force.

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Giulio Coraggio

I am the head of the Italian Technology sector and the global head of the IoT and Gaming and Gambling groups at the world-leading law firm DLA Piper. IoT and artificial intelligence influencer and FinTech and blockchain expert, finding solutions to what's next for our clients' success.

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