LeoVegas Continues to Battle “Insane” Italian Ad BanBy Luke Haward, CDC Gaming ReportsSeptember 9, 2018 at 12:01 amIt’s hurting every legitimate operator in Italy, but the ad ban looks very much set to take effect as planned on 1st January 2019, with those holding existing contracts able to continue advertising until July of the same year. Ironically and, yet, probably inevitably, there is currently more advertising than ever for gambling in Italy, as operators rush to spend their advertising budgets while they are still legally able to do so. On the flip side, Facebook and Google Adwords have both pulled the plug ahead of time, which in a sense has reinforced the feeling of the ban’s inevitability. At least one operator seems not to have given up the ghost, however: LeoVegas Italy remains the country’s most vocal opponent of the ban.In a recent exclusive interview with Gambling Insider, Managing Director Niklas Lindahl details just why he finds the new law “insane”. For starters, there is a contradiction present: firms are still allowed to apply for and obtain licenses but are now unable to promote and grow their new businesses. This is a decent argument against the ban sitting well with the existing gambling infrastructure in Italy, but it perhaps fails to consider that the government has always said that the advertising ban – which exempts only the National Lottery – would be only the first step in a series of measures aimed at reducing the negative impacts of gambling on the public. There may well be additional restrictions on the way which further limit the scope of the second biggest gambling industry in Europe.Lindahl also raises the point that, reportedly, as soon as legal operators were banned from advertising on Google and Facebook, illegal unlicensed operators sprang to the top of the ad rankings. This is obviously an undesirable outcome, especially for vulnerable, poorly informed, or novice players. The big tech firms must do something to avoid these types of results at the very least.Lindhal further references the claim that LeoVegas previously filed with the European Commission concerning a possible violation of EU laws and voiced his confusion over why larger operators, and many of them, are staying quiet in face of the ban. This is indeed puzzling, since there seems to be nothing to gain from passivity in this case. Understandably, he puts the call out for a united front of protest and discussion with government, while acknowledging that any immediate reprieve is very unlikely.One thing operators may find helps their case is recognising what factors have contributed to this turn of events, extreme as the Decree might be. There is a growing sense amongst the general public that gambling facilities and adverts are too widespread, and that little support is available for problem gambling treatment and prevention. Perhaps investing some of the funds saved from advertising in such beneficial ventures might improve relations between this new government and gaming operators in the years ahead.