The new Italian government's new gambling legislation for the country's football clubs has been overshadowed by Cristiano Ronaldo's signing to FC Juventus. The so-called 'Decreto Dignità' (Law Decree no. 87/2018), which came into force on 14 July 2018, is intended to combat gambling addiction by banning the advertisement of gambling and betting related services and products.
Article 9 paragraph 1 of Decreto Dignità bans betting and gambling providers from advertising in publications, via the media (including TV, radio, the internet and social media platforms) and on billboards. The ban also includes advertising at sport and cultural events.
The same paragraph states that any existing sponsorship agreements or campaigns promoting betting and gambling operators will benefit from a grace period until 1st January 2019. After that date, sports clubs will be forbidden from receiving sponsorship from these companies.
Nevertheless, Article 9 paragraph 5 of Decreto Dignità does not apply to existing sponsorship agreements which will be permitted to run until their contracted expiration or 14 July (whichever is earlier).
Unlawful advertising and sponsorship may give rise to fines on the advertising contractors, calculated as the higher of 5% of the value of the deal or € 50,000.
The Italian Communications Regulatory Authority will be in charge of monitoring compliance with the new legislation and will have the power to sanction those in breach. All sums raised from the administrative fines will be allocated to fund the expenses of the Italian Ministry of Health.
Stakeholders in Italian professional football have objected to the legislation, which will prevent many clubs obtaining the additional income they require to participate in the national championships, as well as in European competitions.
The Italian Parliament now has 60-days from the publication date (i.e. 14 July 2018) of the Decreto Dignità to approve or amend the decree. Amid massive lobbying from representatives of both the football clubs and the betting industry, changes to the legislation are expected.
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