Top 3 best practices to handle the Italian gambling advertising ban

The AgCom guidelines on the Italian gambling advertising require a change in the strategy

The Italian gambling advertising ban requires operators to get ready with their marketing strategy, and there is no more time for any tolerance.

The Italian gambling advertising ban and its open flexibilities…

Those interested in the Italian gambling market had a date marked in their calendar, the 14th of July 2019. This date sets the coming into force of the full regime of Italian gambling advertising ban provided by the so-called Dignity Decree adopted by the Government around a year ago (Read the article “Italian gambling advertising ban in place and now?“).

But the same individuals interested in the Italian gambling market know that the Italian gambling advertising ban does not mean that you need to stop any communication to players. The Italian communications authority, AgCom, issued some guidelines on the Dignity Decree that are open to different interpretations. However,

there is no doubt that advertising campaigns run before the ban cannot be continued the same way…

It seems something obvious, but actually, it is not. International operators will no longer be able to make an economy of scale, translating their foreign TV advertisement and banners. A strategy dedicated to the Italian gambling market will be necessary.

Are you ready for the Italian gambling advertising ban?

The date of the 14th of July 2019 is relevant since on that date the exemption to the applicability of the ban to gambling advertising contracts entered before the 14th of July 2018 expiree. And it is likely that AgCom from now on will be more aggressive in investigating operators and media companies promoting gambling products or services, with sanctions that are equal to 20% of the value of the advertising agreement and at least € 50,000.

What we have been doing during the last months has been to extensively work on the communication strategy of operators, turning advertising messages into informative messages that could avoid being hit by the ban, working on new channels of communication and meeting media companies to outline our interpretation of the gambling advertising ban. Indeed, the AgCom guidelines the gambling advertising ban seem to suggest “holes” to the total ban.

International operators can no longer translate their marketing campaigns in Italian and publish them on their website. However, the rules of the gambling advertising ban require such a strict approach.

At the same time, it is necessary to set limits to the operation of affiliates defining specific contractual terms that provide new rules of their operation, in addition to the existing conditions of the affiliation agreement, and also revise the criteria of calculation of commissions to limit the risk of challenges. The misconduct of affiliates would lead to liabilities of the operator. And the adoption of additional terms setting rules of operation might limit the risk exposure of the operator.

Finally, some agreements that cannot survive the regime in place after the 14th of July 2019 shall be terminated.

My top 3 main best practices

In my view the main points to consider are

  1. It is necessary to change any banner, newsletter and advertising material and create new solutions to inform players of gambling products/services;
  2. Agreements with affiliates and third parties need to be renegotiated or terminated, also working on the criteria of calculation of the commission/consideration; and
  3. AgCom from the 14th of July 2019 is likely to start investigations, also because consumer associations have already challenged during the last year marketing campaigns of gambling operators and are likely to become more aggressive. It is necessary to be ready for investigations by means of instance of reports and legal opinions that outline the reasons of a specific course of action and because the company considered it compliant with the rules of Italian gambling advertising ban.

On the topic above, you may find interesting the article “How affiliates are impacted by the Italian gambling advertising ban“.

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Giulio Coraggio

I am the location head of the Italian Intellectual Property & Technology department and the global co-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 client's success.

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