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The Italian communications regulator has struck X with a €1.35m fine for violating the country’s gambling ad ban.

AGCOM, the national regulatory authority for communications in Italy, unearthed nine violations, including one for each blue check-verified account found to be advertising games of chance.

The regulator also found that only seven of these accounts were eventually blocked by the social media giant. As such, it ordered X to ban the remaining two accounts.

Italy’s government signed off on new regulations last June that included requirements for social media businesses to take stronger action to safeguard children online.

The new rules built on top of prior advertising restrictions, notably the country’s 2018 Dignity Decree, which banned all forms of gambling advertising.

The new rules will initially only apply to Italian accounts working with Italian-facing brands.

These regulations – which came into force in January – mandate that any gambling ad must be clearly marked as such.

Penalties for each violation can reach up to €600,000, depending on the seriousness of the offence.

AGCOM cracks down on social media

Even prior to the updated regulations, AGCOM repeatedly fined social media companies for gambling ad violations.  

The organisation levied penalties totalling €2.25m against Google-owned YouTube in December 2023 for gambling ad breaches.

This came alongside a separate €900,000 fine for streaming business Twitch.

AGCOM highlighted the presence of more than 20,000 videos on both platforms promoting gambling activities such as slots or sports betting.

However, Meta received the stiffest penalty. The company was hit with a €5.85m fine for a series of breaches.

These included hosting gambling promotional content on its platform, including from 18 social media profiles on both Facebook and Instagram.

The communications regulator argued Meta was in a position “to know the illegality of the content”.

Last October, the European Betting and Gaming Association (EGBA) argued the country’s strict advertising laws were fuelling the illegal segment.  

“The country’s ban on advertising for licensed gambling operators is clearly favouring the black market,” said EGBA secretary general Maarten Haijer.

“Without a sufficient level of advertising, there is no real way for Italians to tell the difference between a gambling website which is licensed in Italy – and applies the country’s consumer protection rules – and one that is not,” he added.

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