Outgoing ADM chief criticises government over departure

13 August 2018

Giovanni Kessler has hit out at the decision by the Italian coalition government to remove him as head of national gambling regulator Agenzia Dogane Monopoli (ADM).

Last week, it was confirmed that Benedetto Mineo will head up the ADM, but Kessler (pictured) has criticised the move, saying it “jeopardises impartiality”.

Kessler also accused the government of “political cleansing”, adding that he was “reset” from his role at the ADM.

“I was reset by the government as head of the ADM on the basis of a real or alleged party membership,” Kessler said, according to PressGiochi.

“[There was] no evaluation of skills, projects, results. A political cleansing spoils system.”

The change comes after the Italian government last week also signed off on the Lega-5Star ‘Dignity Degree’, which includes new laws that will ban gambling advertising in the country.

The changes will not come into full effect until January 1, 2019, and operators will have until June 30 next year to comply with changes, but the move has led to widespread criticism.

Maarten Haijer, the secretary general of the European Gaming and Betting Association, branded the ban on gambling advertising as impractical and “counterproductive”.

Paddy Power Betfair has also spoken out against the ban.

Speaking after the bookmaker last week unveiled its first-half results, chief executive Peter Jackson said the firm is seeking to achieve “podium position” in all regulated markets where it is active, including Italy.

Although Jackson said while this could be possible through organic growth and mergers and acquisitions, the ad ban could hamper progress and it could be forced to pull out of the region.

“I guess, as a last resort, if you couldn’t make any of those things happen, then you might choose to exit the market,” Jackson said, according to The Times. “It’s quite tough in Italy when you can’t advertise to grow.”