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Italy's #AGCOM sheds more light on advertising

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It’s a well-known fact that Italians and people living in Italy love gaming, with online gambling in its many forms proving to be a huge success over the years. Last summer’s World Cup betting and growing interest in global online gambling leaders such as PartyCasino and Betsson showcase just how successful online gambling in Italy has become. But with this rising trend, concerns have surfaced with reference to advertising. Therefore, AGCOM shedding more light on the subject has been particularly well received.

AGCOM, which stands for Autorita per le Garanzie nelle Comunicazioni, has laid out plans on how it will go about enforcing the country’s ban on advertising relating to gambling. The Dignity Decree was approved in July 2018, and this means that all direct and indirect advertising, promotional communications and sponsorship will now be prohibited. AGCOM hopes that this move will reduce gambling addiction rates, while subsequently helping to further protection efforts.

There will be ways for operators to communicate with their customers however, something which AGCOM have shed light on recently. Informative communications will be allowed, meaning that sporting odds, the prices of winning a game, jackpots, bonuses and minimum bets are all able to be communicated to the general public via Italian media sites. Those operating in the retail sector of the market will also be allowed to continue to display branding and information on products and offers in-store.

A concern AGCOM had in relation to the advertisement of gambling platforms was how many operators appeared in internet searches. They have looked to counteract this by limiting how much operators are able to appear in searches, with AGCOM suggesting that only when a search specifically made for gambling will they now appear. Licensees will also be prohibited from using any techniques such as SEO to boost their rankings with the likes of Google.

The ban on advertising in Italy came into play on 1 January this year, however the rules in relation to sports sponsorship won’t come into effect until 14 July. The reason for this is that many teams who displayed operator branding on their strips, or even around stadiums through advertise hoardings, had contracts in place with their respective sponsors. The 14 July date allows the contracts to come to their natural close, preventing any difficulties arising mid-season.

As well as the ban coming into play, there’s also been a series of tax hikes hitting the industry too. Online casino and bingo operators will now be taxed at 25% of their gross gaming revenue, while online sports betting will be taxed at 24% of gross gaming revenue. Sports betting operators active in the land-based sector will now have to pay 22% tax on gross revenue, with the same applied to virtual sports. Video lottery terminals and amusements with prizes have also seen hikes, to 6.75% and 18.85% respectively.

With AGCOM doing their best to shed more light on the situation, it will make the current and upcoming transitions a lot easier to understand and handle. Online gaming and gambling will of course remain hugely popular in Italy but there’s a continued hope that less gambling addictions will arise as a result of the changes.

 

Economy

Issuance of green bonds will strengthen the international role of the euro

Catherine Feore

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Eurogroup ministers discussed the international role of the euro (15 February), following the publication of the European Commission's communication of (19 January), ‘The European economic and financial system: fostering strength and resilience’.

President of the Eurogroup, Paschal Donohoe said: “The aim is to reduce our dependence on other currencies, and to strengthen our autonomy in various situations. At the same time, increased international use of our currency also implies potential trade-offs, which we will continue to monitor. During the discussion, ministers emphasized the potential of green bond issuance to enhance the use of the euro by the markets while also contributing to achieving our climate transition objective.”

The Eurogroup has discussed the issue several times in recent years since the December 2018 Euro Summit. Klaus Regling, the managing director of the European Stability Mechanism said that overreliance on the dollar contained risks, giving Latin America and the Asian crisis of the 90s as examples. He also referred obliquely to “more recent episodes” where the dollar’s dominance meant that EU companies could not continue to work with Iran in the face of US sanctions. Regling believes that the international monetary system is slowly moving towards a multi-polar system where three or four currencies will be important, including the dollar, euro and renminbi. 

European Commissioner for the Economy, Paolo Gentiloni, agreed that the euro’s role could be strengthened through the issuance of green bonds enhancing the use of the euro by the markets while also contributing to achieving our climate objectives of the Next Generation EU funds.

Ministers agreed that broad action to support the international role of the euro, encompassing progress on amongst other things, Economic and Monetary Union, Banking Union and Capital Markets Union were needed to secure the euros international role.

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EU

European human rights court backs Germany over Kunduz airstrike case

Reuters

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An investigation by Germany into a deadly 2009 airstrike near the Afghan city of Kunduz that was ordered by a German commander complied with its right-to-life obligations, the European Court of Human Rights ruled on Tuesday (16 February), writes .

The ruling by the Strasbourg-based court rejects a complaint by Afghan citizen Abdul Hanan, who lost two sons in the attack, that Germany did not fulfil its obligation to effectively investigate the incident.

In September 2009, the German commander of NATO troops in Kunduz called in a U.S. fighter jet to strike two fuel trucks near the city which NATO believed had been hijacked by Taliban insurgents.

The Afghan government said at the time 99 people, including 30 civilians, were killed. Independent rights groups estimated between 60 and 70 civilians were killed.

The death toll shocked Germans and ultimately forced its defence minister to resign over accusations of covering up the number of civilian casualties in the run-up to Germany’s 2009 election.

Germany’s federal prosecutor general had found that the commander did not incur criminal liability, mainly because he was convinced when he ordered the airstrike that no civilians were present.

For him to be liable under international law, he would have had to be found to have acted with intent to cause excessive civilian casualties.

The European Court of Human Rights considered the effectiveness of Germany’s investigation, including whether it established a justification for lethal use of force. It did not consider the legality of the airstrike.

Of 9,600 NATO troops in Afghanistan, Germany has the second-largest contingent behind the United States.

A 2020 peace agreement between the Taliban and Washington calls for foreign troops to withdraw by May 1, but U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration is reviewing the deal after a deterioration in the security situation in Afghanistan.

Germany is preparing to extend the mandate for its military mission in Afghanistan from March 31 until the end of this year, with troop levels remaining at up to 1,300, according to a draft document seen by Reuters.

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EU

Digitalization of EU justice systems: Commission launches public consultation on cross-border judicial co-operation

EU Reporter Correspondent

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On 16 February, the European Commission launched a public consultation on the modernization of EU justice systems. The EU aims to support member states in their efforts to adapt their justice systems to the digital age and improve EU cross-border judicial co-operation. Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders (pictured) said: “The COVID-19 pandemic has further highlighted the importance of digitalization, including in the field of justice. Judges and lawyers need digital tools to be able to work together faster and more efficiently.

At the same time, citizens and businesses need online tools for an easier and more transparent access to justice at a lower cost. The Commission strives to push this process forward and support member states in their efforts, including as regards facilitating their cooperation in cross-border judicial procedures by using digital channels.” In December 2020, the Commission adopted a communication outlining the actions and initiatives intended to advance the digitalization of justice systems across the EU.

The public consultation will gather views on the digitalization of EU cross-border civil, commercial and criminal procedures. The results of the public consultation, in which a broad range of groups and individuals can participate and which is available here until 8 May 2021, will feed into an initiative on digitalisation of cross-border judicial cooperation expected at the end of this year as announced in the 2021 Commission's Work Programme.

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