Italy begins gambling crackdown by tackling ads

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Luigi Di Maio, the new deputy premier of Italy and leader of the Five Star Movement (M5S) party, has called for “the prohibition of gambling advertising.” He was talking about the possible new moves by the ruling coalition government. He unambiguously stated that the coalition has a number of grievances against the gambling industry, especially online gambling, but the government would start with tackling gambling advertisements. His words echoed the government’s actions. The new government last month launched a platform that has reduced the number of amusement with prizes (AWP) machines and video lottery terminals (VLT) in retail venues by one-third and virtually slapped a ban on [gambling] advertising and sponsorships.

The coalition has introduced legislation that would prohibit “any form, direct or indirect, of advertising propaganda, of commercial communication, sponsorship or promotion of brands or products of games with cash prizes, offered in collection networks, both physical and online.”

Di Maio, whose new role as Minister for Economic Development, Labor and Social Policies gives him responsibility over telecommunications issues, claimed that the coalition’s opposition to online gambling advertising was based on the belief that online action was “even more alienating” than slot machines in a local bar, since you can gamble online without leaving your home.

Land-based electronic gaming machine operators weren’t spared Di Maio’s scorn, as he referenced “dark rooms where people enter in the morning and leave in the evening” without noticing the passage of time. Di Maio said this behavior was “destroying families.”

Di Maio insisted that the coalition wasn’t out to “eliminate [gambling] altogether,” because that would only drive the activity into the hands of Italy’s organised crime groups.