As the Italian government gets ready to modify the country's gambling regulation to introduce more stringent measures on slots rooms and TV advertising, opposition leader Beppe Grillo has asked the Parliament to discuss a bill that aims to introduce "a full ban on gambling advertising."
Millionaire comedian turned opinion leader and politician, Grillo accused the Government to have explicitly avoided to take into consideration the proposal of a full ban prepared by his political party, the Movimento 5 Stelle, because "the majority is under the thumb of the gambling industry and its lobbyists."
Grillo, whose personal blog was included in the list of The world's 50 most powerful blogs by Britain's The Observer, claims that the new measures on gambling have been ready for weeks now but have been kept secret from the Parliament as they had to be created and eventually modified by the biggest gambling companies active in the country.
"The draft is ready since February 11," Grillo writes. "The Government decided to make it available to the gambling industry and not to the members of the Parliament - they told us that the document is secret and that we have to wait."
Linking to a PDF file that Grillo assures to be a copy of the draft that the government has sent to a number of gambling companies, the leader of the opposition party explains that the reform planned by the Italian Government is not going to introduce any significant restriction or any relevant measure to fight against compulsive gambling issues.
"The M5S found the text and is now making it public. Do you want to know what to know what the draft says?" Grillo asks from his blog. "The ban on gambling ads, that should have been a total one along the lines of the one applied to cigarettes, will be completely insignificant."
In his attack on the plans of the Government, Grillo also explains that the movement he leads has already proposed to introduce a full ban on gambling advertising to be adopted at least on all Italy's State-owned public TV channels.
"I want to remind everyone that the M5S, through Roberto Fico, proposed a special contract that would introduce a total ban on gambling ads from Italy's public TV channels," Grillo explained.
Would the ban hit on the online poker industry?
What is unclear, at the moment, is if Grillo's new war against the gambling industry could hit Italy's already weak online poker market or not.
As reported on PokerNews Italy on Feb. 21, Filippo Degasperi, a member of the M5S, publicly spoke against the ban on live poker games adopted in the country as he explained that he believed poker to be a game of skill and not one of luck.
Speaking about the decision of Italy's authorities to forbid the organization of a poker tournament at a local amateur club in the North of the country, Degasperi explained that he considered it to be "absurd."
"It's an absurd choice," Degasperi said. "The club simply wanted to organize a sporting event where player had to compete against others by developing different strategic approaches." According to the member of the M5S, poker tournaments should also be allowed because they "there is always a specific limit on the money that a player can lose."
"The Italian Government is expected to outline a new package of gambling rules that might considerably change the market," DLA Piper partner and technology lawyer Giulio Coraggio said earlier this month. "We have already reviewed a number of different versions of such new rules and assessed in different manners their potential impact, but this is still a work in progress."
Similarly to Grillo, however, Coraggio seemed to believe that while the companies that run Italy's gambling halls may have something to fear, the online sector looks relatively safe as the announced 'ban' on gambling ads looks a lot softer than initially announced.
"The restrictions on gambling advertising that initially appeared to be very stringent are likely to end up into restrictions that are not so different from the gambling advertising rules that are currently in place," Coraggio explained.
Image courtesy of lultimaribattuta.it