The Italian government has dealt a big blow to the nation’s poker industry. That is due to the eminent passing of a new law known as the ‘Dignity Decree’ (in italian) that will ban almost all gambling-related advertising in the country.
The new law officially bans all types of advertising for gambling products that give players the chance to win money through channels other than the state-operated lottery. Current contracts and sponsorships will be phased out until June 2019.
The “Dignity Degree” was passed by the Italian Senate in a 155-125 vote. One of the main reasons why the government decided to come out with a law that bans gambling advertisements was to address the growing concern of problem gambling in Italy. Recent states suggest that only 12,000 of the 1.3 million Italians with a gambling problem are getting treatment.
Deputy Prime Minister Luigi Di Maio referred to gambling as a disease that can be cured by prohibiting gambling-related advertising. Gaming analysts state that the advertising ban will have a major impact on the gambling industry in the country and iGaming operators will hurt the most.
The Future of Online Poker In Italy
Italy had a sluggish online poker market which is one of the reasons why the gaming regulator agreed to a shared liquidity poker agreement with France, Spain and Portugal. The three countries have already started their shared liquidity agreement but Italy is yet to join the party.
By preventing iGaming operators from advertising their online offerings, Italy has basically crippled their online poker industry as player acquisition now becomes a major problem as iGaming operators rely heavily on advertising to generate traffic and bring in new poker players.
Online poker operators in Italy will be seriously limited when compared to their EU counterparts such as Spain and France who are free to advertise their services. Having a regulated iGaming market with a ban on gambling advertising will impact gross gaming revenue of all operators in the country.
Illegal Gambling Could Flourish
While the government’s intention is to curb advertising in order to curtail problem gambling, the measure could turn out to be counterproductive because illegal gambling operators will look to take advantage of the ban on regulated operators and target the Italian market. The government has struggled in the past in cracking down on illegal poker operators and only time will tell if the “Dignity Decree” hurts or helps the online poker market.