Italian government announces ‘Absolute Ban’ on gambling advertising as first measureBy Luke Haward, CDC Gaming ReportsJune 23, 2018 at 8:00 amLook out, Italy, there’s a banhammer heading your way. The new coalition government has declared, via Deputy Prime Minister Luigi di Maio, that the first wave of their planned crackdown on gambling will come in the form of an ‘absolute ban’ on gambling advertising. Di Maio is also the leader of the Five Star Movement, the demi-populist party (pro-UBI, pro-environmental protection, anti-immigration) that comprises a large part of the current coalition. Di Maio stated that the motivation behind the ban was an attempt to prevent further cases of gambling addiction and problem gambling.The Five Star Movement have put their name and support behind the idea of reducing exposure to gambling in the past, with founder Beppe Grillo writing about it on his blog long before the party took substantial political power. At the very least, the gambling industry is going to have to enact much stronger protections and limitations against problem gambling, as well as expanding treatment options for extant problem gambling cases, if it does not want to be ground to a halt by the current administration. In humanitarian terms, it is hard to argue with Five Star’s acting as a voice for the people, who are concerned specifically about the impact of the industry on the poorest segments of society.It is also a bold administrative move, since the government does currently lean somewhat on the still-expansive gambling industry’s tax revenue. In the aftermath of the ban, there will need to be substantial communication and negotiation between the incumbent government and the gaming industry in order for both to move forward in concert constructively.It may be that the actual prevalence of gambling facilities in Italy does need some reigning in, in order to successfully and sustainably run the industry in the country over the long term, as well as minimizing its potential detrimental effect on society. Once that’s accepted, certain interesting changes may be seen in the local market. The caveat, of course, is that such long-term thinking is often lacking in all things business, not just the gaming world.The many voices in the industry who contend that this is a stride too far will protest that a suite of protections limiting advertising of gambling products is already in effect, including provisions that ads may not “incite gambling or exalt its practice”, suggest that it is a solution to financial issues or that the games are skill-based, or make any reference to credit facilities. On the other hand, whilst an advertising ban exists between 7am and 10pm on the nine major TV channels in Italy, no such limitation exists on any other channels broadcast, other than a stipulation that no ads be shown for thirty minutes on either side of children’s programmes. The debate may rage on, but the new Italian administration is beginning to take action. You can expect it to be heavy-handed. Get your popcorn ready.