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Jerome García December 13, 2023 2 min read
AGCOM Fines Twitch and YouTube over 20,000 Gambling Videos
Italy’s media regulator continues to target tech giants over suspected breaches of the country’s gambling advertisement ban
The AGCOM, Autorità per le Garanzie nelle Comunicazioni, has issued eye-watering fines to YouTube and Twitch, slapping them with €2.25 million ($2.45 million) and €900,000 ($970,000) respectively, Reuters originally reported.
Alphabet and Amazon Targeted by Italian Media Watchdog
The fine is unlikely to be left alone by Alphabet Inc. nor Amazon, the respective owners of the video streaming platforms. The regulator, cited by the media outlet, insisted that there have been 20,000 videos breaching current gambling advertisement laws available online.
The regulator alleges that the companies had partnerships with specific video makers that were pushing unauthorized gambling content, including advertisement focusing and targeting sports, poker, and casino ads. The videos were shared across a total of 80 channels.
Italy, and AGCOM, have been particularly sensitive when it comes to tech firms, and specifically Google, with the regulator going after the Alphabet-owned search engine on multiple instances. Google was fined €750,000 back in August 2022, and before that, another €100,000 fine was issued to the company in October 2020.
Italy has been one of the hardest markets to break into as new companies, as gambling advertising is completely prohibited. The measure, called “Dignity Decree” came into effect on July 14, 2018, and has imposed a blanket ban. The law was pushed by a populist government that garnered a lot of support with its targeting of the industry and anti-gambling rhetoric.
Hefty Fines, But Are They Likely to Hold Up in Court?
The direct results of the ban are difficult to gauge, as we have not seen any sufficient data, but one thing that remains fairly unchanged is the performance of gambling companies in the market. Although it has become harder for new companies to break ground, existing operators have done well over the years since the introduction of the Dignity Decree.
There has been no real gauge of how consumers have responded in terms of problem gambling levels. In the meantime, though, AGCOM has been all gung-ho on any potential regulation breaches. As in previous cases, both companies are likely to appeal the fine and they have a very good chance of actually winning.