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X hit by €1.35m penalty for Italian gambling ad ban breaches

| By Richard Mulligan
X, formerly Twitter, has become the latest social media platform to be fined in Italy for breaching the gambling advertising ban.

Italy’s Autorità per le Garanzie nelle Comunicazioni (Agcom) has imposed a fine of €1.35m on X’s owner, Twitter International Unlimited Company. X was found to have violated the 2019 so-called “dignity decree”. This prohibits any form of advertising, sponsorship or communication presenting promotional content relating to games or betting.

Agcom found nine violations from verified X accounts that advertised sites that offer gaming and betting activities with cash winnings. The fact the accounts had a blue check made X liable for their activities, Agcom said.

The authority added that it has now issued an access inhibition order for two of the accounts that are still active on the platform. Agcom has also adopted an inhibition order for all further illicit content uploaded. This came after notification of the notice of dispute by the nine accounts.

Agcom targets social media platforms

The decision comes just weeks after Facebook and Instagram owner Meta was hit by a €5.58m penalty for gambling advertising. Agcom discovered promotional content for gaming and betting on 18 social media profiles. This included five on Instagram and 13 on Facebook. The regulator also found 32 sponsored video and image posts aimed at promoting or advertising online gaming and betting activities.

The authority has also issued penalties to Google, Twitch and YouTube. Google was issued a fine of €700,000 for violating the ban in August 2022. The fine related to ads that appeared on Top Ads’ Spike YouTube channels, but Agcom did not mention which gambling operators or products were being advertised.

The wide-reaching ad ban in Italy, imposed in 2019, has been a particular source of difficulty for football clubs. Many of these had previously partnered with gambling operators. While partnerships focused on other markets – such as Asia – are still permitted, clubs and football bodies have called for the ban to be relaxed due to the loss of income.

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