A leading European betting company has made the first move in a legal challenge to the planning ban on gambling advertising, included by the Italian government as part of its Dignity Decree.
The Stockholm-listed company LeoVegas has made a formal complaint to the European Union, and is confident that the planned implementation is in breach of EU procedural rules.
The LeoVegas challenge hinges on the principle that the plan to introduce the regulation breaches a key European rule that requires member states to inform the EU Commission of any draft proposals for technical regulation. In this case, LeoVegas is arguing, this step was not taken.
In putting together their complaint, the company has had meetings with MEPs from a number of countries, including Malta, Italy and Sweden and claim that there is widespread agreement among the politicians they have spoken to that the correct procedure has not been followed.
Ban on internal marketing
The proposed changes would ban all gambling advertising, and LeoVegas is arguing that this is against EU principles as it will hinder market access, restricting the incentives for companies from other EU states to enter the Italian betting market.
Currently, ten established gambling operators in the Italian market hold a market share of around 60 percent and the ban on marketing operations is likely to lead to smaller or newer companies leaving the market or deciding not to enter it, which will increase the dominance of the established operators, at the expense of competition.
It is not yet clear what response the EU will make to the complaint, but according to reports in the media, LeoVegas are also preparing further challenges, as part of their aim to overturn the bill completely over the course of the next year.
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Andie Hughes is a freelance writer, based in the UK who specialises in sports betting, casino and betting industry news.