Google in trouble (?) for gambling advertisement in Italy

Google Inc., Google Ireland Limited and Google Italy is being investigated by Italian communications authority AgCom for potential breach of gambling advertising ban displaying of gambling ads on top of their page. AgCom will decide whether or not the tech company has breached Italy’s online gambling ad ban.

The Lega-5Star government implemented a complete ban on all types of marketing related to betting and gambling, as well as sponsorships, advertisements and promotions. Italy had imposed a complete ban on all forms of gambling ads by passing Dignity Decree in 2018. Article 9 of the Decree bans ads of the foreign gambling operators that appear in Google results.

In 2018, Google said that it was committed to getting rid of gambling-oriented content and services that were included on its Italian search results.

When the Decree was brought into effect, Deputy Minister Luigi Di Maio said that these rules were to ensure that Italians are protected against the potential harms of gambling. He also said that it is “a motion that should be supported by all businesses and political stakeholders”.

At present, Google is being investigated to ascertain whether the scope of the Article 9 of Dignity Decree would cover search results of Google that place ads for foreign gambling operators at the top of the results page.

The outcome of the AgCom investigation against Google is likely to be a showdown for the Italian gambling market.  If some further exceptions to the applicability of the ban are identified, they could lead to a reshaping of operators and affiliates’ strategy.

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