Developments in Italian Gambling Ad Ban: Facebook, EGBA, LOGiCO By Luke Haward, CDC Gaming Reports August 2, 2018 at 10:22 pm The reality in Italy is starting to sink in. First, Google ordered advertisers to discontinue gambling ads facing Italy with immediate effect, despite the ban commencing in January 2019, and now fellow (and rival) tech behemoth Facebook is following suit. Despite vehement industry protests, about which more in a moment, this looks set to get real, really fast. The breaking news is that Facebook has updated its terms and conditions related to advertising in Italy. They now stipulate that they will “no longer accept adverts, promotions, pages, Instagram accounts and apps” that promote or connect to online gambling. They go on to state that “pursuant to recent legislative developments, our company is now revoking that approval, in respect of the Italian market, and will only allow national deferred prize-drawing lotteries to run gambling advertising in Italy”.All this comes despite the fact that the Dignity Decree has yet to get its technical seal of approval, which is coming from Parliament on the 10th August. Still, this is very much a technicality, and, although debate in Parliament continues apace, few experts foresee anything different happening. Meanwhile, protests from the industry side of things have continued as expected. The latest is that the European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA) have written a joint letter to the Italian government and the EGBA’s approximate Italian counterpart, La Lega Operatori di Gioco (LOGiCO), which was submitted on Sunday. The thrust of their letter may be summed up by the following excerpt (the full version is available on EGBA’s website): “All stakeholders, parliamentarians, regulators, gambling operators, consumer and health organisations must work closer together, and much more rigorously, in Italy and elsewhere, to find a multi-faceted solution to this complex problem [of problem gambling]. But while a total blanket ban on advertising may seem like an obvious measure, it is not a silver bullet and will… have a counterproductive effect.” EGBA contends that a ban will mean more consumers will play on unregulated websites that lack solid consumer protections and support systems. They stress particularly that self-excluded players will be more likely to reach out to black market operations, although the logic behind this inference is not made altogether clear in the body of the text. The general supposition is that the black market will grow, since a greater number of consumers will not “know” or “check” which ones are legitimate due to a lack of awareness through advertising. The letter ultimately comes off as a somewhat desperate last-ditch measure in a losing battle. EGBA’s general argument seems somewhat thin. It’s not outlandish to suggest that various provisions could be put in place to help educate, inform and protect Italian citizens from black market gambling services regardless of the advertising law.