Banning gambling ads “is a lose-lose game”

Shirley Pulis Xerxen 3 weeks ago
Banning gambling ads “is a lose-lose game”

In a recent gathering of industry experts, the closing panel of “Market Expert Insights” discussed cross-border advertising bans in the gambling industry. The panel featured Robert Zammit, Partner at WH Partners; Quirino Mancini, President of the International Masters of Gaming Law (IMGL); Joerg Hofmann, Senior Partner at Melchers Law; and Cosmina Simion, Managing Partner at Simion & Partners.

Robert Zammit addressed the “headache” that marketing teams face when dealing with the diverse legal requirements of different jurisdictions. Quirino Mancini, President of IMGL, lambasted the country’s “draconian” advertising ban on gambling operators as “pure legal nonsense.” He criticised the Cinque Stelle (Five Star) Movement’s hasty implementation of the ban, which was enforced by AGCOM, a telecoms watchdog with no prior experience in gambling regulation. “It was something that came out of the blue,” Mancini said, emphasising the lack of research and stakeholder consultation.

Inconsistencies in advertising restrictions

Joerg Hofmann, Senior Partner at Melchers Law, pointed out the discrepancies between online and land-based gaming in the wake of these advertising restrictions and also highlighted the hypocrisy in the enforcement of these regulations, where operators regularly find loopholes to indirectly promote their brands. Cosmina Simion, Managing Partner at Simion & Partners, shared insights from Romania, where political elections and public opinion have led to increased taxes and restrictions on the gambling industry. “It’s counterproductive to attack an industry which you are taxing more by putting more bans when you want their taxes at the end of the day,” Simion argued, pointing out the broader impact on various industries, not just gambling.

Is the industry to blame?

The panellists agreed that the industry itself bore some responsibility for the current state of affairs. “The industry was the one that just got busy making money… and all of a sudden we realized that this was a bit too much,” Mancini admitted. He called for increased dialogue between the industry and regulators to overcome mutual distrust and find balanced regulatory solutions.

A “lose-lose” situation

As the discussion concluded, the panelists underscored the need for evidence-based regulations and the importance of community messaging in advertising. “You can talk about the white market, the compliant market, the responsible market, as opposed to doing nothing,” Simion urged, in efforts to avoid blanket advertising bans which are ultimately a “lose-lose” situation.

The panel highlighted the complex and often contradictory nature of cross-border gambling advertising regulations. It called for a more harmonized approach that balances the interests of operators, regulators, and the public while promoting responsible gambling practices. As the industry continues to navigate this challenging landscape, the insights from this panel serve as a beacon for future regulatory discussions.

The event was hosted by WHPartners and Payhound, with SBC as the strategic partner and sponsored by Sumsub.

Upcoming SiGMA event: SiGMA Asia Summit, happening in Manila from the 2 to 5 June.

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