After months of debating, fighting and threatening, the Italian Parliament has officially voted to ban gambling advertising throughout the country. It’s a radical move that will have a big impact on Italian-facing operators and signals a seriously conservative lurch from the country’s latest governing coalition.

The bill passed through the Parliament on a vote of 155-125, which suggests that the ban isn’t quite as popular as its sponsors would have you believe. It is, however, a reflection of the radical policies being pushed through by Italy’s Populist 5 Star movement.

Deputy Prime Minister, and 5 Star booster, Luigi Di Maio introduced the bill in June and titled it as a, “Dignity Decree.” Upon its passage he crowed about his victory saying:

This is the first decree for decades that hasn’t been dictated by lobbies and vested interests. Finally ordinary people have scored a point.

Di Maio went on to say that promotional contracts signed after the ban would not be valid. This was worth mentioning because the bill also bans gambling operators from sponsoring sports teams.

As is so often the case when populists move to “protect the people,” the move also winds up protecting big government. While private bookmakers and casino operators are forbidden from advertising their goods and services, the ban does not apply to the government. That means that the Italian lottery, which is a government monopoly, will still be free to advertise.

The gambling advertising ban is set to take effect on January 1, 2019 with a few provisions that allow existing contracts to expire.


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