Lega Nazionale Professionisti Serie A, the top Italian football league, is said to have expressed “extreme worry” about a ban (“Decreto Legge Dignita“) on all gambling-related advertisement. The legislation was passed recently and is set to go into effect on January 1, 2019.
The Washington Post and the Associated Press published an article which said the gaming law recently passed by the Italian Council of Ministers could cost all of the Italian soccer clubs millions of dollars a year.
The Decreto Legge Dignita banned all sports clubs from displaying gambling-related ads on their jerseys or in their stadiums. The ban allows those with gambling sponsorships at the moment to continue such advertisements for the length of the contract, but all eventually will have to stop seeking corporate sponsorships from sportsbooks or other gambling-related companies.
Serie A Criticizes Gambling Ad Ban
Due to the natural affinity many sports fans have for bookmaker betting (or gambling in general), gambling companies advertise with sports franchises, sports leagues, and sports broadcasters anywhere around the globe it is allowed. Italy is no different.
When the ban was announced, Lega Nazionale Professionisti Serie A released a statement which said, “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.”
Football Clubs with Gambling Sponsorships
At the moment, 12 of the 20 Serie A soccer clubs have gambling-related sponsorships. Those twelve clubs have warned that the ban could negatively impact earnings for 2019 and beyond.
Italian sports broadcasting companies also have said that Decreto Legge Dignita would hurt their future earnings. Television networks reap huge benefits from the advertising dollars spent by sportsbooks and betting companies.
European Gaming and Betting Association
Members of the European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA) spend approximately $140 million a year on advertisements in the Italian football league. While news sponsorships will be found, they are not likely to be nearly as lucrative as the gambling sponsorships.
EGBA secretary general Maarten Haijer also said that the Italian advertising ban might not be enforceable, at least when it involves foreign soccer clubs who are playing in Italy. Haijer press release on the new law stated, “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. Italian citizens will continue to see gambling advertising, except that those ads will advertise websites that are not licensed in Italy.”
Such laws would not allow not apply to the jerseys worn by non-Italian football clubs playing in Italy, but it also might not be enforceable on foreign broadcasts of football. While Serie A is wildly popular with Italian soccer fans, they also enjoy watching matches involving the English Premier League (EPL), La Liga, and Bundesliga. It goes without saying that the Champions League and Europa League matches are popular in Italy.
Enrico Preziosi on Decreto Legge Dignita
Enrico Preziosi, chairman of Genoa CFC, said that the Decreto Legge Dignita would do nothing to stem problem gambling or limit the influence of gambling in Italian society, because the government cannot enforce anti-gambling laws on offshore gaming operators.
In a classic argument against prohibition of a vice, Enrico Preziosi said the ban will only help illegal operators, because gambling is popular pasttime Italians enjoy. The 70-year old soccer executive pointed out that, in the past, bans on popular activities have proven unenforceable — and only helped organized crime.
Preziosi said, “It is madness. 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.”