The Implications Of Italy's Ban On Gambling Advertisements

Author:Mr Nicola Dolci
Profession:Withers LLP

The 'Decreto Dignità' – which came into force on 14 July 2018 with the aim of fighting gambling addiction by banning the advertisement of services and products related to gambling and betting – has now been converted into Law no. 96/2018 by the Italian Parliament and published on 11 August 2018.

Betting and gambling providers are now prohibited from carrying out any advertising in publications or on billboards within Italian territory. Moreover, as from 1 January 2019, the ban will also include advertising during games or sponsorship of sports or cultural events. All those who fail to comply will be hit with a financial penalty.

Betting and gambling industry representatives have criticized the new regulation on the basis that this far-reaching ban does not follow scientific recommendations for treating gambling addiction and pathology. Despite the ban on the advertising of cigarettes (introduced in Italy in 1962), reportedly rates of smoking addiction have not decreased since.

The impact of the new law on agreements that are already in force with betting and gambling companies should be assessed. The new legislation provides that any sponsorship agreement concluded with (Italian or foreign) betting or gambling companies before the enactment of the Decreto Dignità will continue to be in force until their expiry or 14 July 2019, whichever occurs first. Afterwards, any sponsorship agreements with a betting company will be illegal.

It is worth highlighting that, currently, 11 out of the 20 clubs competing in the Serie A Championship have sponsorship deals in place with betting companies. For example, AS Roma entered into a three-year deal with online bookmaker Betway, while FC Internazionale Milano has recently signed an agreement with Asian online betting and gaming partner Letou. As a result of the new regulation, by 14 July 2019 these sponsorship deals will in all likelihood no longer be valid and cease to be in effect (at least with respect to the Italian territory), resulting in a serious loss of profits for these clubs.

From a financial perspective, the new regulation will no doubt significantly affect Italian sports stakeholders and will result in a growing financial gap when compared to other European countries, like France and Spain, where such a ban is not in force. With this new law, Italian professional championships will lose a considerable source of revenue and, consequently, be less capable of attracting top athletes. To better...

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