The secretary general of the European Gaming and Betting Association has called on the Italian regulator to rethink the country’s gambling advertising ban amid mounting concerns about the black market.
Citing a report by Italian newspaper La Gazzetta dello Sport, which said the Italian black market is worth €25bn per year, the EBGA estimated that almost €1bn in gross gaming revenue is lost to black market websites annually.
The newspaper report added that of the €25bn figure, €18.5bn – or 75 per cent – is being spent with unlicensed operators.
The EBGA subsequently added that its estimate for GGR loss is equivalent to the combined GGR of eight other EU countries including Malta, Estonia and Cyprus.
EBGA secretary general Maarten Haijer said the rise in black market activity in Italy is due to a ban on advertising, which he said is giving Italians “no real way” to “tell the difference” between licensed and unlicensed operators.
“It is evident that enforcement action against black market operators is not sufficient and that the government needs to revise its advertising rules for gambling to ensure Italian citizens can be well informed about the licensed websites in the country,” he added.
An EBGA statement said it is “concerning” that many Italian players will not be offered “even a basic level of consumer protection” when gaming.
“It is crucial that the Italian authorities do more to raise awareness among Italian gamblers about the risks associated with using unlicensed platforms based outside the EU, and to signpost the licensed operators who adhere to the regulated responsible gambling practices and regulations in the country,” the EBGA said.
It said Italy’s Customs and Monopolies Agency has already blocked over 9,800 unlicensed operators this year but added that the rise of more than 400 blocked in 2022 highlights the “increasing scale of the problem.”
Italy banned gambling advertising in July 2018 and other European countries have since cracked down on marketing including Spain, Belgium and the Netherlands.