Italian betting, sports and media stakeholders have been left perplexed, following the Council of Ministers approval of the directive to introduce a blanket ban on gambling/betting advertising.
Reviewed on Monday, the Council of Ministers would approve Deputy PM Luigi Di Maio’s draft mandate, which introduces an outright ban on all forms of gambling (except the state’s national lottery) across all media platforms and sporting institutions/clubs.
Despite introducing a ‘transitional period’, which allows betting advertisers to fulfil existing marketing contracts secured beyond January 2019, it appears that the Lega- 5 Star coalition government has triggered its ‘nightmare scenario’ for Italian gambling.
In their respective 2017 General Election campaigns, both Di Maio and Lega Nord leadership counterpart Matteo Salvini had declared that their parties would introduce severe gambling restrictions should they come to power.
Having been sworn into government last June, following a tricky confirmation process, Di Maio as new deputy PM had pressed for the Council of Ministers to speed up the review of his draft blanket ban on gambling advertising.
Betting leadership had reached out to Lega-Five Star officials, warning the coalition not to implement a rash directive which had not reviewed the potential negative impacts on businesses, sports funding and consumer safety standards.
Italian trade body LOGiCO had urged the coalition to work with industry leaders on a compromise, stating that the blanket ban would have ‘no positive effects’ on protecting Italian consumers.
2018 had been previously marked as a year of ‘positive change’ for the Italian betting sector, which would expand new licenses and revamp its framework for sports betting provisions.
Nevertheless, Lega-Five Star has delivered Italian betting its cruel summer as all stakeholders will be forced to revise their future strategies and operations.