AGCOM, Italy’s federal communications and media regulator, has announced that it would keep a closer eye on online media outlets that advertise online gambling content.
After fining Tuscan regional news outlet ‘Il Giunco’ €50,000 for posting a ‘casino advertorial link’ on its ilgiunco.net website, the regulator sent a notice to digital media incumbents.
The compliance attracted general condemnation of AGCOM, which was dubbed a “punitive agency” for fining independent Il Giunco – a company with a turnover of less than €100,000 – €50,000.
AGCOM defended its conduct, arguing that it had levied the smallest “applicable fine” for Il Giunco because the firm had violated Italy’s advertising requirements, as required by the federally approved Dignity Decree.
The Decree’s tough position on online advertising, which has been in place since 2019, states that digital publishers can only advertise online gambling operators’ regular product and service content. As a result, it is illegal for Italian digital marketers to view online gambling operators’ “promotional offers or messaging.”
Il Giunco’s advertorial connect was found to have advertised a message promoting wisecasino.net’s “best games and slots.” The advertorial connection was given by an associate partner implicitly endorsing the online casino, which the Tuscan news source unsuccessfully challenged.
Broad inequalities in applying Decree laws
The seriousness of AGCOM’s punishment, according to Italian media analysts, shows the broad inequalities in how Decree laws are applied.
Google Ireland was fined €100,000 by AGCOM last year for several violations of the Decree’s online advertisement requirements through its search engine and ad-network content. In comparison, an insolvency-threatening €50,000 fine was imposed on Il Giunco, an independent publication that serves as a key news outlet for Tuscany.
Following AGCOM’s Google decision, Italian digital media companies have requested that the organisation amend the Dignity Decree’s online gambling content publishing terms.