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POLITICS

Italy’s government moves to ban all adverts for gambling

The Italian government has approved a ban on all advertisements for gambling, including on TV, radio, and online, with hefty fines for those failing to comply.

Italy's government moves to ban all adverts for gambling
Slot machines at a gambling arcade in Rome. File photo: Andreas Solaro/AFP

The ban is part of a so-called 'Dignity Decree', the new government's first major economic legislation, which was made up of 12 articles mostly aimed at improving job security.

But the decree also included a ban on advertising for any products and services related to gambling, as well as prohibiting sports clubs — or any other artistic or cultural events — from signing sponsorship or promotion deals with gambling companies. A last-minute change however meant that advertisers with existing contracts would be able to fulfill these agreements, and excluded Italy's state lottery from the ban.

Companies that flout the ban on sponsorship deals would face a fine of at least €50,000, with the money going to Italy's fund for tackling gambling addiction.

“[Gambling] was a social emergency that needed to be tackled immediately,” Luigi Di Maio, Labour Minister and Deputy Prime Minister as well as author of the decree, told Rai TV on Tuesday. The ban was featured in the government programme put together by Di Maio's Five Star Movement and the nationalist League, which came to power on June 1st following months of negotiations.

Italy's Serie A football league said it was following developments “with extreme concern”; more than half of the clubs in Serie A currently have deals in place with gambling firms.

In a statement, the league said: “Preventing companies in this sector from investing in promotion in our own country would cause competitive disadvantages to Italian clubs, diverting advertising budgets for our teams abroad.”

It also criticized the proposed measures as ineffective in tackling addiction, calling on the government to focus instead on “education, prevention, and awareness” of the problem.

But the president of the Italian Footballers Association, Damiano Tommasi, said the decree was “the right choice” and that he hoped it would succeed.

A government report in October 2015 suggested as many as 1.3 million Italians are problem gamblers – but revealed that only 12,000 people were under treatment for addiction. In 2016, the town of Anacapri became the first in Italy to entirely ban slot machines, and other mayors have since followed suit.

Other measures included in Di Maio's decree included increased costs for companies using temporary employment contracts, and a limit on how many times these can be renewed, as well as a rule that Italian firms that relocate overseas must pay back any financial support received from the state.

In order to be passed, the decree must be approved by Italian parliament within two months.

POLITICS

Italy’s government to continue sending weapons to Ukraine in 2023

Italy's new government issued a decree on Thursday to continue sending weapons to Ukraine through 2023, continuing the previous administration's policy of support to Kyiv.

Italy's government to continue sending weapons to Ukraine in 2023

The decree extends to December 31, 2023 an existing authorisation for “the transfer of military means, materials and equipment to the government authorities of Ukraine,” according to a government statement.

Since taking office in October, Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni has repeatedly voiced her support for Kyiv while underlying the importance of the Atlantic alliance.

In her first speech to parliament, the leader of the Brothers of Italy party pledged to “continue to be a reliable partner of NATO in supporting Ukraine.”

Her predecessor Mario Draghi was a staunch supporter of Kyiv, but the issue of sending arms to Ukraine split the biggest party in parliament during his coalition government, the Five Star Movement.

That friction led to the early elections that brought Meloni to power.

Parliament now has 60 days to vote the decree into law.

READ ALSO: Outcry in Italy after Berlusconi defends Putin’s invasion of Ukraine

Despite Meloni’s efforts to reassure her Western allies of Italy’s support for the EU’s and NATO’s Ukraine strategy, including sanctions on Russia, the close ties to Russia of her two coalition partners have come under scrutiny.

Both Matteo Salvini of the League party and former premier Silvio Berlusconi, who leads Forza Italia, have long enjoyed warm relations with Russia.

In October, an audio tape of Berlusconi was leaked to the media in which the former premier described how he had received a birthday present of vodka from Russian President Vladimir Putin.

In the tape, he also expressed concerns about sending weapons and cash to Kyiv and appeared to blame the war on Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky.

Berlusconi later issued a statement saying his personal position on Ukraine “does not deviate” from that of Italy and the EU.

Since the beginning of the war in Ukraine, Salvini, too, has come under fire for his relations with Moscow, including a report that he dined with Russia’s ambassador to Rome just days after that country’s invasion of Ukraine.

Salvini, who has criticised EU sanctions as ineffective, has long admired Putin, even wearing T-shirts emblazoned with the Russian leader’s face.

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