In Italy, the body behind the nation’s top soccer league has reportedly expressed ‘extreme worry’ regarding the recent passage of legislation that is to ban all gambling-related advertisements from the first day of next year.
According to a report from the Associated Press news service published by The Washington Post newspaper, the Lega Nazionale Professionisti Serie A stated that Monday’s approval of the Decreto Legge Dignita by the nation’s Council of Ministers could cause its member clubs to lose millions of dollars in sponsorship revenues.
The news service reported that the legislation, which will not cover advertisements for Italy’s state-run lottery, is to also prohibit sports clubs from displaying sportsbetting-related sponsorships on their shirts although those with existing agreements will be allowed to continue until the end of their current contracts.
“The Lega [Nazionale Professionisti] Serie A is following with extreme worry the developments of the Decreto Legge Dignita and the impact on Italian football of rules that ban advertising from betting firms,” reportedly read a statement from the Lega Nazionale Professionisti Serie A.
The organization detailed that twelve of the nation’s 20 top-flight Serie A soccer clubs had sponsorship agreements with gambling firms last season and warned that the looming prohibition could negatively impact earnings from the sale of television rights as broadcasters may struggle to market advertising slots.
The European Gaming and Betting Association, which is made up of some of the continent’s largest privately-owned online gambling firms, reportedly told the Associated Press that its members spend approximately $140 million every year to sponsor sports teams and leagues in Italy. The group’s Secretary General, Maarten Haijer, purportedly questioned the effectiveness of such a ban as foreign teams will still be permitted to carry gambling-related sponsorships when they play games in the country or have their matches televised to Italian viewers.
“We would also question the practicality of introducing a total ban on advertising as a result of the cross-border nature of the Internet and television,” read a statement from Haijer. “Italian citizens will continue to see gambling advertising, except that those ads will advertise websites that are not licensed in Italy.”
The Associated Press reported that official statistics indicate that Italians spent around $119.75 billion on gambling in 2017, which represented a 142% increase year-on-year, while there are thought to be almost six million people in the country with some form of an addition to gambling.
But, Haijer reportedly told the news service that a ban on the advertising of gambling will be ‘counter-productive’ to his group’s efforts to protect consumers in Italy as current adverts direct players to ‘gambling operators who are licensed to operate and comply with the rules.’
Enrico Preziosi, Chairman for Italy’s oldest top-flight soccer club, Genoa CFC, reportedly told the Associated Press that the Decreto Legge Dignita will do nothing to prevent gambling addictions and instead only aid those who operate illegal betting businesses.
“It is madness,” the 70-year-old reportedly told the news service. “It would be a huge blow for us and wouldn’t even resolve the problem it wants to face. They don’t understand the devastating effects there will be on football where thousands of people work.”