Google AdWords bans gambling adverts in Italy By Luke Haward, CDC Gaming Reports July 27, 2018 at 8:26 am Google has decided to adhere to the recently announced Italian ban on gambling advertising that will kick in beginning in 2019 and has informed operators using Google Adwords that they will not be permitted to offer any AdWords gambling advertising that might be seen in Italy in the future. Some would argue that, given the bill does not even apply until January 1st, that this is a little premature. Then again, once such a regulation is approved by the government, as it has been, there is every reason to think that it will go forward in roughly its current form. One thing which does seem a little rushed is that reportedly this change will take place immediately, essentially depriving operators of several months of legal advertising time. When questioned by the regional press, Deputy Prime Minister Di Maio made reference to it being an acknowledgement of the effectiveness of Italy’s new approach to gambling. The fascinatingly named “Dignity Decree” is creating a seismic shakeup of the Italian gaming industry as it goes into effect. It’s likely there will be more major changes in the pipeline under the current government. Industry projections are that these new laws will cut advertising revenue by as much as €70 million by 2020, when the ban will be fully in effect. The hit won’t be as bad next year, since existing contracts with operators for advertising will be honored for a full year after the new bill takes effect. A tiny space is carved out for certain state lotteries, as Google acknowledged in their warning to advertisers, saying “… only state lotteries with deferred drawing will be allowed to run gambling advertising in Italy”. Some operators are holding out hope of a reprieve before the due date. A report submitted within the government this week voices concerns that the banning of advertising in the Decree appears incompatible with some other forms of existing legislation. There’s nothing to say this latter group will not be scrapped, however. Further, the European Gaming & Betting Association (EGBA) has indicated that it believes Italy to be in violation of the 3-month standstill period by which new laws are presented to the EU, possibly invalidating the decree. Certainly a rocky road lies ahead in Italy for operators, and the possibility of a decline in online revenues may leave the government with budget concerns also. It seems a slender hope indeed that the EU will step in or that there will be substantial changes from within the government on this matter. While not wishing to fearmonger, it seems more likely to me that this particular Decree will appear a baby step in comparison to what may come next. The times are changing for gaming in Italy, and any visible light for the industry at the end of this short tunnel is likely an oncoming train.