Autorità per le Garanzie nelle Comunicazioni (AGCOM) has issued a firm reminder that Dignity Decree rules on gambling advertising must be strictly adhered to in Italy, following a recent breach by Google Ireland Ltd.
Google was fined €750,000 by AGCOM in August after allowing its YouTube platform to promote gambling-related content on its video channels.
This was adjudged to breach Article 9 of the Dignity Decree (2018), which prohibits any form of direct and indirect gambling advertising from being displayed to Italian audiences.
The media and communications agency also issued a €700,000 fine to Malta-based affiliated marketing agency Top Ads Ltd for creating illicit content promoting gambling offers on SpikeSlot.com.
AGCOM stated: “This is the first measure taken by the office against a video hosting service provider for allowing the distribution of banned advertisements relating to games with cash winnings.”
The agency reprimanded YouTube for authorising Top Ads as a ‘verified partner’, allowing its channels to post gambling content without scrutiny.
“YouTube was found liable for not taking action to remove the illegal content widely distributed on its platform by a third party,” AGCOM explained.
AGCOM underlined that it held the full authorisation to penalise foreign media owners due to recent rulings by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) favouring the authority of state agencies on gambling adverts.
Google has history with AGCOM and breaches of the Dignity Decree rules – in 2021, AGCOM ordered Google to pay €100,000 for breaching rules on its search engine and third-party ad-publishing network.
However, a review by a Rome Court judged that Google ads are created in full ‘autonomy by the advertiser’, who generates their content through an ‘automated process’.
As such, Google advertisers must register and verify their accounts whilst accepting the rules of Google platforms that prohibit and restrict certain ad-categories such as gambling, tobacco, alcohol, and drugs, dependent on the specific laws of each jurisdiction.
This follows another regulation reminder in Italy earlier this year, when the country’s ADM, Agency of Customs and Monopolies, warned operators and retail brokers that it would apply new controlling mechanisms into Punto Vendita Ricarica (PVR), retail points of sale for gambling concessions.