Betting Companies Launch Fightback against Italian Government

Map of Italy in red on grey political globe

The Italian Government’s Dignity Decree, recently passed by its parliament, effectively puts an end to all gambling ads in the country. Now, though, the casinos and the sports betting companies are fighting back, with mobile casino operator LeoVegas spearheading the charge.

Last Friday, the company ran a two-page ad in Italy’s “Corriere dello Sport” featuring the company’s new social media hashtag #GIOCAPERGIOCO – play for fun.

A Google translation of the text that ran with the hashtag was:

“Dear Players, we have waited for you, we have desired you, and finally we are there. To win in this new season will require passion, sacrifice, and commitment. Only by challenging you with honor and dignity, like true lions, victory will be near. Good championship, everyone. We are still here by your side!”

Well, let’s hope they didn’t pay the copywriter too much for it. But the company was obviously laying down a challenge to the Italian government, especial since LeoVegas CEO Niklas Lindahl said that using the word “dignity” was no accident.

“Responsible and correct”

The ad, he said, was intended to send the message that “advertising in the betting and gaming world can be responsible and correct” and that LeoVegas wanted to show that “we are different from [the way] in which politics in recent months has tried to portray us.”

Lindahl has been among the ad ban’s harshest critics, openly clashing with Italy’s Deputy Prime Minister Luigi Di Maio, the chief mover behind the ban. Lindahl suggests that the ban will ultimately be decided at a European level or “when a new Italian government arrives that will reason in a more sensible way.”

If history is any guide, he will not need to wait long for a new Italian government. Whether it would overturn the ad ban is doubtful though. A recent survey found that the ban was the most popular part of the Dignity Decree, with 61% of those polled in favor of it.

Then again, only a third of those polled actually knew what the decree was about, so you can understand why the sports betting companies want to continue the battle. Marathonbet has certainly not been deterred and has agreed to a €7m ($8m; £6.15m) shirt sponsorship deal with Serie A side Lazio, which will run through to the end of the current season when such sponsorship deals must end, according to the decree.

No doubt the war of words between the casinos and betting companies and the Italian government will continue. For now, though, it is very much to the advantage of Luigi Di Maio and his coalition partners. It is going to take rather more than “passion, sacrifice, and commitment” to make the politicians change their mind.

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