Decree criticism leads to coalition collision at AGCOM

Italy’s communications and media authority, AGCOM, has written a letter to the Lega-5Star coalition government, regarding the Dignity Decree ban on gambling advertising; suggesting that the ban should be formally reviewed.

With the regulatory department being tasked with monitoring licensed incumbents advertising under the Decree’s regime, AGCOM governance has now warned Lega-5Star that its ban on gambling advertising is ‘‘unconstitutional and incompatible’ with laws surrounding Italian businesses.

Stating its case, AGCOM have argued that the Decree’s mandate ‘harms Italian gambling concessionaires’, while it further creates an unbalanced marketplace for new incumbents that may have recently acquired gambling licences.

A scathing review of the advertising ban has been officially enforced since 14 July, which has seen AGCOM further criticise Lega-5Star’s strict discipline code, seeing operators risk fines which are equal to 20% of the sponsorship/advertising value – priced at no less than ‘€50,000 for each Decree-law breached’.

The media agency has labelled advertising penalty charges as “disproportionate and contradictory”, which cannot be justified against operators that have been qualified by the Italian state in order to offer gambling services.

AGCOM have further warned coalition ministers that the advertising ban may blur the marketplace for consumers, as approved operators will be treated like unlicensed players, with Italy’s gambling market requiring a level of distinction in order to protect players.

Previous data published by AGCOM has detailed that the advertising ban will be leading to an expected €100m decline in advertising revenues for TV, press and media stakeholders. It is found that stakeholders have formally called on Lega-5Star to undertake a ‘reality check’ of its Decree mandate.

Detailing contingencies, AGCOM calls for the coalition to distinguish advertising laws based on different forms of gambling and services which have been offered by licensed operators, establishing a marketing criteria based on ‘levels of risk’, rather than there enforced blanker ban.

Moving forward, AGCOM governance urges the coalition government to focus to reform Italy’s gambling framework as “the most suitable and effective tool to tackle problem gambling, while respecting private economic initiative”.

In response to the AGCOM notice, Luigi Di Maio, leader of 5Star and author of the Decree’s betting advertising ban, stated on his Facebook page that leadership would be changing hands at AGCOM, “This September, we’ll replace the Authority board: in which country a Government prohibits the gaming advertising and an Authority can allow it?”

However, the review of the Decree’s advertising ban still remains a distant prospect, with the Italian Prime Minister, Giuseppe Conte and Di Maio agreeing to appoint the next chairman of the media agency – leaving betting to live with its Decree reality.

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