888 first offender under new Italian ad regulations; Italian bookies liable for odds mistakes

TAGs: 888 Holdings, AAMS, Italy

italy-888-holdings-gambling-advertisingItaly’s tough new gambling advertising regulations have claimed their first victim in UK online operator 888 Holdings. The country’s Advertising Self-Regulatory Court has taken exception to an 888 television spot featuring a punter being showered with gold coins after hitting an online slots jackpot during a late-night gambling session. The ad watchdogs determined this imagery had improperly equated gambling with responsible financial planning, regardless of the fact that the ad contained responsible gambling caveats.

It’s unclear precisely what punishment 888 will face, although the regulations, which took effect Jan. 1, allow for fines of up to €500k per infraction. From the moment the regulations were announced last year, operators had expressed concern over the lack of specifics surrounding prohibitions on ads that incentivize or exalt gambling activity, as it’s considered somewhat impossible to promote a service like gambling without mentioning the potential financial rewards (as any viewer of a government-run lottery advert will attest).

Italian gaming regulator Amministrazione Autonoma dei Monopoli di Stato (AAMS) has declared that Italian bookies must honor winning wagers, even those that occur when the bookies made an obvious goof in posting the odds. The decision stemmed from an incident in October 2012, in which a punter placed an over/under wager with an unidentified Italian bookie on odds that the bookie subsequently realized were in error. The bookie declared that this error was so “glaring” that the punter should have been well aware they were a mistake, and thus the bookie declared the bet null and void. This concept has been upheld by the Court of Rome.

However, in February, AAMS determined that “the psychological state of good faith is not objectively ascertainable,” i.e. they couldn’t automatically assume that every sports bettor was a pro with a keen grasp of what odds were kosher and which were meshugah. Furthermore, AAMS determined that the terms of the bookie’s gambling license required it to ensure the quality of its betting systems, including the posted odds. As such, bookies are expected to honor the wagers they’ve willingly accepted, regardless of whether or not they subsequently determined to have been using extra fat fingers to punch in the odds.


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