How affiliates are impacted by the Italian gambling advertising ban

The AgCom guidelines on gambling advertising set stringent limits of operation

Affiliates will need to implement considerable changes to adapt their offering to the significant limits set by the Italian gambling advertising ban guidelines.

After years from the Italian gambling advertising ban’s coming into effect, we are still approached by affiliate websites that argue to either ignore the ban or think that they were not affected by it and could continue operating as before.  Unfortunately, this is a pretty risky strategy that could jeopardise the whole Italian operations of the site and lead to disputes and fines.  Below is an outline of the regime in place and how it affects affiliates:

The guidelines on Italian gambling advertising

I discussed in a previous article how the Italian gambling advertising guidelines issued by AgCom have disappointed operators, setting stringent limits to gambling advertising.  However, some exemptions to the ban need to be understood as part of guidelines that are contradictory in some areas.

The ambiguity of some provisions can leave the impression that some activities (e.g., informative communications without a call to action) are possible with no restriction.  At the same time, a more careful review of the whole document provides limits also to such activity.

The impact on affiliates of the Italian gambling advertising ban

The more relevant ambiguity of the guidelines concerns the implications for gambling affiliates.  I received several communications from some of them following the publication of the guidelines.

Most of the affiliates celebrated, assuming that they could continue operating with no restriction.  But my concern is that there was a misinterpretation of some provisions since:

  1. The display and delivery of informative communications can occur without restrictions only in some cases;
  2. The usage of claims relating to odds and commercial offers can be done, only with a “comparison element”, which leaves uncertainty on what this is;
  3. The publication of logos and domain names can be displayed only in specific circumstances;
  4. CRM communications are banned, but there might be some exceptions;
  5. Advertorial is forbidden, but it depends on the modalities of performance; and
  6. Influencer marketing is also prohibited, requiring, in some cases, to change the business model.

What corrective actions shall affiliates implement to comply with the Italian gambling advertising ban?

We are working with operators and affiliates on alternative forms of communication.  But there is no doubt that the time when affiliates and operators were translating their promotions in Italian without any significant adjustment is over.

Like operators, affiliates shall review the contents of their site and promotions to make sure, among others, that

  1. Communications and articles are merely informative, and there is no call to action;
  2. Prize promotions are removed and replaced by bonus campaigns that shall be merely described;
  3. The usage of influencers is fine-tuned in terms of language, offering, transparency, and contractual arrangements;
  4. The commission arrangement is restructured in the contracts to avoid being qualified as an advertising contract; and
  5. Initiatives are thoroughly reviewed before being launched.

These points are just a few of those to be considered.  But affiliates shall be aware that the Italian regulator is not just going after large operators, which might fall within their radar.

On the topic above, you may find interesting “Italian gambling advertising guidelines adopted, and now what?“.

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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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