Italy Penalizes Twitch and YouTube for Gambling Advertising

Posted on: December 13, 2023, 07:21h.

Last updated on: December 13, 2023, 07:21h.

The Italian Authority for the Guarantee of Communications (Agcom) has imposed substantial fines on Google and Twitch, totaling over €3 million (US$3.23 million). Violating regulations prohibiting gambling advertising in the country has resulted in this punishment.

A cell phone displaying the YouTube app
A cell phone displaying the YouTube app. Italy has fined Google, as well as Twitch, for allowing gambling ads despite a nationwide ban. (Image: Getty Images)

YouTube received the largest fine, facing a penalty of €2.25 million (US$2.42 million). Twitch, which has attempted to distance itself from hosting gambling content, will be required to pay €900,000 (US$970,470).

Agcom had previously targeted Google, fining it €1.45 million (US$1.47 million) about a year and a half ago. However, this fine was overturned in court this September.

20,000 Gambling Promotions

Agcom launched investigations against the two companies, along with a third against TikTok, in response to numerous complaints. The regulatory agency found over 80 YouTube and Twitch channels with more than 20,000 videos promoting slot machines, games of chance, sports betting, and scratch-off cards.

Both companies were found responsible as owners of the media that disseminated videos published by third parties under specific commercial association contracts. Italy has prohibited gambling advertising for over four years.

Following Agcom’s intervention, the platforms removed the illicit content and were directed to prevent similar publications in compliance with the European Union’s Digital Services Regulation (DSA). This guidance requires tech companies to better oversee their platforms to prevent exposure to questionable material by minors.

TikTok could have faced a similar response from Agcom. However, after reviewing the published material, Agcom concluded that the gambling content was independent of any agreement between TikTok and the content providers. Therefore, Agcom closed the case without imposing a fine.

Cracking Down on Social Media

Similar to other countries, social media platforms in Italy will face increased scrutiny. The country has approved new regulations aimed at protecting children online. These regulations target major video platforms such as YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok, and will be enforced from January 8 of next year.

The regulations require tech companies to adopt stringent measures against videos that may pose a risk to underage users. This specifically addresses content spreading religious and ethnic hatred, as well as promoting online racial and sexual attacks. The legislation also covers various other potentially harmful and illegal content.

Under these regulatory measures, Agcom now has the authority to take decisive action against video platforms in the event of violations. Importantly, these laws extend to digital platforms based in other EU countries. However, before these rules are enforced, the Italian regulator must consult with the national authorities of the respective country.

If actions taken by that authority fail to satisfy Agcom, the regulator retains the right to proceed with the takedown request directly with the platform. This demonstrates Italy’s commitment to enhancing child safety on popular video-sharing platforms and ensuring that tech companies are held accountable for content that may pose harm or involve illegal activities for young users.

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