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Decree Dignity and Advertising Bets, doubts and certainties: the comment to the expert

On 14 July last, the Dignity Decree was officially implemented with regard to the ban on advertising gambling. A measure that is having consequences in terms of revenue in the world of football. In this regard, doubts have been raised about its effectiveness, subject to the goodness of the intent, to combat the scourge of ludopathy and compulsive gambling. To clarify the ideas we returned to the lawyer Stefano Sbordoni, a member of the International Masters of Gaming Law, with many years of experience in the field of games and betting at both the administrative and institutional level and at corporate level. That's what he told us.

To whom does this decree really damage? Italian football and the press will lose about 200 million a year

Indeed, the decree seems more like a medal on the chest of those who conceived and screened it rather than a substantial instrument for the purposes which it is said and proclaimed to have been issued. The actual damage for the advertising operators and also for those who benefit as there are teams and press organs is relevant. In addition, as usual, a situation of spasmodic search for alternatives is created that does nothing but worsen the situation at the source, increasing costs and not giving the hoped-for benefit. Certainly the European trend is to limit a type of invasive advertising but this could have been done with a legislative provision that is generically less penalizing like this.

Among other things, one of the functions of the game made public is to return benefits as well as being an activity that could, if not controlled, have compulsive effects. Even if we have seen that the numbers must be read in their reality and are not so alarming. In other words, it is right to limit advertising, but cum grano salis, something that is completely missing to those who are dealing with this sector from the legislative point of view.

The dignity decree that aims to combat gambling addiction, but only regulates the online sector, (7%) of annual gambling according to the data provided by Logico, and is the portion already most regulated thanks to Sogei. She believes she will succeed in her resolve to limit the pathological game.

In reality the dignity decree does not refer only to the online so much so that in the Agcom declinations are present all the cases relating to the terrestrial. Surely the most significant impact today is on online because advertising, the one that first catches the eye, is that of online gaming. As for the purpose, if there has always been a regulator of the sector that knows the details and the story, it should also regulate advertising. As for the purpose of limiting the pathological game, things have to be done with that pinch of salt in pumpkin that seems to me to lack in the institutions approach to this sector.

Is it true that some bookmakers will be fined on purpose to see the features of the book and the alleged infringements?

I have no news of this. It is certain that the verification of the legitimacy of some provisions of the decree in its declination made by Agcom can be examined only in the first judicial case that should materialize and be started by someone. That someone has made this hypothesis can be there, that it is done knowingly I don't know.

The dignity law decree focuses on combating gambling addiction and gambling. According to you informative sites that deal with the betting exchange and sports trading centered on trading, quotas, statistics, on the study and analysis of games in a maniacal manner fall within this sphere?

Of course all the activities derived from betting and betting on the game, even if they do not consist in actual play, even if the betting exchange falls, can therefore be touched to suffer the effects of the dignity decree if indirectly but in a detectable way they are soliciting, or call to action, solicitations or invitations to the game in a detectable way. If these activities are not gambling activities, they are put on a test reversal plan, or rather they will be the one who verifies, that is the authority, to prove that the activities performed are part of the soliciting.

The decree in question speaks of a ban on sponsorship and advertising contracts. If there is no advertising contract, do you think the decree has effect? In your opinion, then, do internet sites and blogs that talk about betting and do not have contracts fall under this legislation?

It is not enough to talk about betting to get back into the inhibitory effects of the dignity decree. It is precisely this speech that can be interpreted quite clearly, not only supposedly, as an incentive to play. This will be the responsibility of the competent authorities, ie ADM, Agcom and any police forces. It is not all obvious and should not be taken as a black veil that falls on any activity that does not have a net incentive to play.

Betfair in an email sent to affiliates believes that the affiliate contracts that the bookmakers make with the websites to put the banners of the same do not fall within the decree. What do you think?

Here too there is a lot of uncertainty. In order to create clarity we suggested to challenge the guidelines because Agcom was forced by the scope of the rule, which is not identifiable at all, to issue contradictory guidelines. For some this is a good thing and they will want to see it to the test of the facts, I am for clarity and I would have preferred that the same rule of the decree dignity was interpreted by a norm of equal magnitude that delimited its effects. What I believe, with this government, will be difficult. For the affiliate discourse the margin of interpretation is very high.

The penalty for those who violate the decree speaks of a 5% of the value of the advertising or sponsorship contract with a minimum of 50,000 euros. A blog that puts a banner and we say it does not allow advertising and over the last few years has received as an affiliation a few thousand euros can receive a fine of 50,000 euros? Should penalties not be commensurate with the violation?

This is another of the controversial aspects of the standard. Surely the sanction must be graduated and this will be the task of the Agcom that already has the possibility and the secondary or internal regulations to be able to graduate them, not specifically this but in general the sanctions. We have worked on this as a study and done research and determinations in this regard.

How are bookmakers, football clubs, and television companies moving to try to mitigate this decree or dialogue with the executive? Do you think there may be changes soon or in a future change of government?

Bookmakers, football clubs and televisions each for themselves are looking for alternative ways to mitigate the effects of the decree. I believe something is already there to see if possible, however, to act and work on what is permitted by the decree in the explanations and declinations of the guidelines. As for the changes, I fear that during the life of this government, with these parties and above all proportions, there will not be great hope of change. A possible reshuffle or an eventual change could leave openings also because objectively the norm needs an adjustment and a revision to make it more logical because this is only propaganda.

Who is the body in charge of controlling infringements? Are they adequately competent and trained in doing so?

The bodies in charge are Agcom, Customs and Monopolies Agencies, and the Finance Police, each for their own duties. As for the appropriate competence, the Agcom formed it during the hearings and in this period even if perhaps it is not yet mature to have full control of the application of the norm and of the matter. Customs Agencies is certainly competent and certainly has the skills, you have to see how left to act for their own skills or rather tight on the ropes by government dictates. The training of the other relevant institutions is in progress. As always, with regard to the institutions, it is necessary to understand how much the message and line imposition given by the Government through its competent bodies or the minister or in this case the deputy minister, even if in this case it does not have competence in the sector.