Luigi Di Maio, the new deputy premier of Italy and leader of the Five Star Movement (M5S) party, has called for “the prohibition of gambling advertising.” He was talking about the possible new moves by the ruling coalition government. He unambiguously stated that the coalition has a number of grievances against the gambling industry, especially online gambling, but the government would start with tackling gambling advertisements. His words echoed the government’s actions. The new government last month launched a platform that has reduced the number of amusement with prizes (AWP) machines and video lottery terminals (VLT) in retail venues by one-third and virtually slapped a ban on [gambling] advertising and sponsorships.
The coalition has introduced legislation that would prohibit “any form, direct or indirect, of advertising propaganda, of commercial communication, sponsorship or promotion of brands or products of games with cash prizes, offered in collection networks, both physical and online.”
Di Maio, whose new role as Minister for Economic Development, Labor and Social Policies gives him responsibility over telecommunications issues, claimed that the coalition’s opposition to online gambling advertising was based on the belief that online action was “even more alienating” than slot machines in a local bar, since you can gamble online without leaving your home.
Land-based electronic gaming machine operators weren’t spared Di Maio’s scorn, as he referenced “dark rooms where people enter in the morning and leave in the evening” without noticing the passage of time. Di Maio said this behavior was “destroying families.”
Di Maio insisted that the coalition wasn’t out to “eliminate [gambling] altogether,” because that would only drive the activity into the hands of Italy’s organised crime groups.
Olympic Casino Faces Another Fine in Lithuania
The Lithuania Gambling Supervisory Authority has issued another fine to UAB Olympic Casino Group Baltija following a further breach of advertising laws in the country.
The Authority fined Olympic Casino €25,000 after it found the operator featured information on its website about how customers could watch live sports events on Setanta Sports, but also encouraged users to bet on sports.
The text in question set out how customers would watch live coverage of events such as the Spanish La Liga and Italian Serie A football leagues, as well as WTA tennis and Nascar motor-racing in the US.
While the promotion stated that coverage of events would be free, it also included text in relation to how customers could make deposits and withdrawals to and from their account on Olympic Casino. The advert included phrases such as “Be part of the game”.
Assessing the case, the Authority ruled the promotion was in breach of article 10, paragraph 19 of the Law on Gambling of the Republic of Lithuania, which relates to encouraging people to participate in gambling.
The Authority said the information about the possibility to watch events for free was not considered a gift, but information with which the operator sought to draw attention to its services, as well as to persuade and encourage people to participate in gambling.
However, the Authority also noted that the decision was not final and could be subject to an appeal by Olympic Casino.
Kindred Challenges the Coercive Fine in Norway
Kindred Group, via its wholly owned Maltese subsidiary Trannel International Ltd, has been informed that the Norwegian Gaming Authority has decided to reinstate the coercive fine against Trannel International despite the changes Kindred Group has undertaken.
Over the past month, Kindred has made wholesale changes to the brand to meet the compliance standards set out by the Norwegian regulator – which were detailed in a cease-and-desist letter handed to the subsidiary in 2019.
The changes included removing all Norwegian flags from the website and channels, changing the language on all sites from Norwegian to English, discontinuing all advertising and marketing activities in Norwegian and stopping the offer of talking to Norwegian-speaking customer service agents.
However, even with the new changes, the regulator is persisting with the “non-enforceable” fine, which Kindred believes has no legal basis and will challenge in the courts.
Kindred said in a statement: “Trannel firmly disagrees with the NGA’s assessment as it is entirely legal for Norwegian residents to access and use international gambling services, which are licensed in the EU/EEA area and offered within a safe and secure environment, Kindred will continue to accept customers residing in Norway passively.
“The NGA does not have jurisdiction over Trannel as the company is domiciled in Malta and duly licensed by the Maltese Gaming Authority. Therefore, Kindred is confident that the coercive fine cannot be enforced by the NGA outside of Norway.”
Stanleybet Group Secures Retail Licence for Betting in Andalusia
The Stanleybet Group has secured a sports betting retail licence to operate in the Spanish region of Andalusia.
The group has been looking at expanding in the Spanish market for some time, with a retail base in Malaga currently set to open in Q1 2023.
Stanleybet Group CEO Giovanni Garrisi said: “We had started the process for obtaining the license already in 2019, then the pandemic event inevitably slowed down the procedures. In the meantime, we continued to dialogue with the Andalusian authorities, to complete the process once everything returned to normal. Now, after obtaining the retail license for sports betting also in this other highly regulated European country, we are ready to expand into a new market, Spain, which offers great opportunities for our sector. Andalusia represents an extremely vast market with a very high development potential. We will start from Malaga, where we are already working on the opening of the first shop, scheduled for the first quarter of 2023, and then continue in the other cities.”
Antonio Stanzani, Stanleybet Country Manager for Spain, said: “The Spanish model envisages two types of shops; the ‘tienda de apuestas’, a betting agency opened directly by the operator and the ‘salon de juegos’, a slightly broader definition that includes the shop opened by private third parties, with the affiliation model. Our business model, already successfully applied in other countries, such as Belgium and Cyprus, includes both types, because we believe that flexibility is one of the factors that have led us to succeed in various markets. Our first shop will be a ‘tienda de apuestas’, to imprint and export our style also in Andalusia, but we are already in contact with several Spanish entrepreneurs who have chosen Stanleybet to start thriving and lasting partnerships in the betting and gaming industry, in which we have been a leader since 1958.”
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