X Becomes Latest Social Media Giant to Be Fined in Italy for Illegal Gambling Ads

  • The €1.35m ($1.5m) fine relates to nine different verified accounts
  • Italy has a blanket ban in place on all forms of gambling advertising
  • AGCOM has issued fines totaling more than €35m ($38m) so far in 2024
X logo on phone
X is the latest social media giant to get hit with a fine by Italy’s communications watchdog over illegal gambling ads. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Continuing the crackdown

X is the latest social media giant to get hit with a huge fine in Italy for allowing illegal gambling ads. The Elon Musk-owned platform has to pay a €1.35m ($1.5m) penalty to the country’s communications regulator, the Autorità per le Garanzie nelle Comunicazioni (AGCOM).

blue check mark “verified” accounts that promoted real money gambling

A letter published on Tuesday announcing the fine explains that AGCOM Commissioner Elisa Giomi imposed the financial penalty on March 6 due to nine violations. Each of these issues relates to separate blue check mark “verified” accounts that promoted real money gambling.

X only directly blocked seven of the accounts after becoming aware of the issue; AGCOM ordered it to do the same for the other two. It also warned X about any further breaches relating to these accounts.

A track record of penalties

Italy has had a blanket ban in place on all types of gambling ads since July 2018, including on social media sites. The first fine was €200,000 ($218,838) to Google in October 2020 over a paid search ad for an online casino. The company received further penalty action a couple of years later for allowing gambling ads on YouTube.

Other social media platforms have also been on the receiving end of AGCOM fines. YouTube paid €1.2m ($1.3m), Google’s fines total €2.25m ($2.5m), the Amazon-owned Twitch streaming platform received a €900,000 ($984,771) penalty, while Meta’s fines add up to more than €6m ($6.6m).

questioned the effectiveness of the gambling ad ban

The European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA) has questioned the effectiveness of the gambling ad ban. They claim that addiction rates are the same and that the restrictions just make it likelier that people in the country will use black market gambling platforms. Further proposed changes, such as tripling license fees, mean that many operators are now considering completely leaving the Italian market.

Not just gambling-related issues

AGCOM is busy taking action against errant companies and its penalty issuances total more than €35m ($38m) so far in 2024. On Thursday, it fined TikTok €10m ($11m) for not properly checking content that could potentially be harmful to young or vulnerable people.

AGCOM was set up as an independent authority in 1997 and is headquartered in Naples.

The content in question relates to a trend called the “French scar” whereby people pinch their cheeks to try to leave a lasting bruise. The regulator is also cracking down on the activities of influencers and people running illegal streaming sites.

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