Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, has been fined €5.85 million by the Italian Communications Regulatory Authority (AGCOM) for violating strict gambling advertising laws. This marks a significant increase in regulatory action against major online platforms.

AGCOM’s thorough investigation uncovered “promotional content” related to gaming and betting on 18 social media profiles, with five on Instagram and 13 on Facebook. The regulator also identified 32 sponsored posts aimed at promoting online gaming and betting.

AGCOM held Meta accountable as the owner of the dissemination means, emphasizing their awareness of the content’s illegality. While Meta only bore liability for five of the flagged accounts, the company swiftly took corrective action after being contacted by the regulator, removing 11 offending profiles. However, this did not prevent the financial penalty and accompanying notice and take-down order.

This breach by Meta directly violates Italy’s Dignity Decree, which aims to address problem gambling and addiction. The decree imposes a stringent ban on all forms of gambling and betting advertising across various mediums.

AGCOM’s fine follows similar penalties imposed on YouTube (€2.5 million) and Twitch (€900,000) for similar gambling ad breaches. The European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA) has criticized Italy’s ad ban, arguing that it inadvertently fuels an offshore market.

As news of the fine broke, Meta Platforms, Inc. (META) experienced a slight dip in stock price, indicating potential investor concerns about the regulatory challenges the tech giant faces in the evolving online gambling advertising landscape.

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