AGCOM bans YouTube and the ‘Slot machine king’: fine of 1.45 million for gambling advertising

AGCOM has fined Google and TOP ADS LTD for 1.45 million euros. The authority has contested alle two società the violation of the prohibition of publicity of the gambling game, as sanctioned by art. 9 of decree-law n. 87/218.

The provision does not refer so much to so-called pre-roll advertising, that is, advertising messages generally shown automatically before the start of a video, as much as to the contents of a specific YouTube channel, called Spike. While we are writing this news, the channel is no longer accessible from Italy, however some videos from the channel are still indexed by the Google search engine.

As underlined by the same authority, this is the first provision of this type against a video sharing platform. For the first time, a platform designed for video sharing has been sanctioned for hosting the promotion of games with cash prizes, in violation of the provisions of the law entered into force in 2018, the so-called Dignity Decree.

It is worth lamenting the fact that the law does not sanction exclusively the advertiser, but also the owner of the mezzo, that is, of the site used to spread publicity. It’s not worth it because – as reported this month, both from the press and from the same users of the platforms in question -, since now a couple of years, gambling-related content has exploded on sites like YouTube and Twitch.

Distinguishing a ‘genuine’ video from collaborations with non-declared advertising purposes is often extremely difficult. AGCOM’s interest could lead to a strict control and content related to gambling. For the rest, if the risk is that of paying fines cyclically to six zeros, maybe Google and Amazon should completely remove themselves from gambling by obscuring any content that can be hidden – often in a way that is not even so hidden – a market in casinos and all societies di betting online.

In its injunction, the authority reports that Google passively hosted illicit advertising content, without taking even the minimum and appropriate measures necessary to limit the circulation of gambling advertising. The AGCOM is keen to underline a further fact: YouTube and Spike were bound by a partnership agreement, as the content creator is a verified partner of the site — the latter qualifies as being attributed to the content creator upon reaching certain results .

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