Italian betting leaders attending the ICE2020 London conference detailed their frustrations as Italy’s new coalition government continues to enforce a blanket ban on gambling advertising sanctioned by the former administration’s Dignity Decree mandate.
Prior to the conference, online gambling trade body LOGiCO bluntly stated that the Decree had failed in its core objectives of reducing Italian gambling spend and safeguarding consumers.
Stating its case, LOGiCO would simply point to online statistics taken from August to December 2019, which underlined that during the first five months of the Decree’s full enforcement, online betting grew 13% on 2018 comparatives.
Following a one-year grace period, Italian betting consumers appear to have neglected the ‘blanket ban’s effectiveness’ as online betting GGR grew from €274m to €324m.
Online casino trends further back LOGiCO’s statement, in which decree restrictions had no impact on market leaders, with legacy operators Snaitech, Sisal, Eurobet and Goldbet all reporting significant GGR growth within their online casino verticals.
The only perceived impact that could be potentially attributed as a ‘Decree outcome’ is that foreign online operators such as bet365, bwin and William Hill noted ‘weaker growth’ (below 10%) during the reported period.
Speaking at ICE2020, Snaitech Group CEO Fabio Schiavolin stated that his firm’s online casino growth had little to do with the Decree’s advertising ban, explaining that it is “an effect of a long-term strategy and the work we have carried out across our gaming sites”.
He added: “In a moment of total blackout, we are perceived as a reliable brand, which keeps its promises.”
Despite their online gains, Italian betting leadership highlighted the wider negative impacts that the Decree’s blanket ban had placed upon critical stakeholders.
Governance of Lega Calcio, the governing body of Italian professional football leagues, remains critical of the Decree’s reach and consequences.
A Lega Calcio assessment had estimated that the Decree had cost Serie A football clubs approximately €100m in the form of lost sponsorships, reduced TV rights and further marketing revenues.
LOGiCO detailed that further sporting bodies shared Lega Calcio’s concerns, as the Decree’s blanket ban had negatively impacted Italian media coverage and broadcast of smaller sports.
Following the Decree’s first months of enforcement in which its objectives appear to have been outdone, Alexander Martin (New Chief Executive of SKS365) shared his frustration at a new government failing to take the opportunity to collaborate with industry incumbents to gain effective insights.
“Politicians often forget that legal operators can reduce the problem gambling as they can control the activity of their customers and identify any problems,” Martin told the ICE2020 audience.
Despite its well-documented flaws, in 2020 the new Italian coalition government has detailed that it maintains no schedule to review its Decree mandate on betting advertising.