Major social media company Meta, parent company of Facebook and Instagram, has been hit with a substantial €5.85 million fine by the Italian Communications Regulatory Authority (AGCOM) for violating strict gambling advertising laws. This marks a significant escalation in regulatory actions against online platforms.

AGCOM’s thorough investigation found “promotional content” related to gaming and betting on 18 social media profiles. Of these, five were on Instagram and 13 were on Facebook, both owned by Meta. The regulator also identified 32 sponsored video and image posts aimed at advertising online gambling activities.

AGCOM held Meta accountable as the owner of the platforms, arguing that they actively provided an advertising service rather than simply hosting content. Meta’s knowledge of the illegal content was emphasized, resulting in the imposition of liability.

Although Meta promptly removed 11 of the flagged profiles upon contact from the regulator, they still faced financial penalties, an official notice, and a take-down order. This violation of Italy’s Dignity Decree, which banned all forms of gambling advertising, follows similar fines imposed on YouTube and Twitch earlier in the month for similar breaches.

The European Gaming and Betting Association has criticized Italy’s ban on gambling ads, claiming it inadvertently supports an offshore market. In response to the news, Meta Platforms, Inc. (META) experienced a slight dip in stock price, indicating potential investor concerns about the regulatory challenges in online gambling advertising.

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