Italy Shuts Down Lowest-Unique Bid Auctions

Italy has shut down a number of lowest-unique bid auction sites, considering them to be games of chance, operating without a gaming license.

“Rocco Gianluca Massa, Editor of International Traders, reported that Italian law-enforcement agency Guardia di Finanza (GdF) has shut down a number of auction websites in Italy that run lowest unique bid auctions. The GdF seized them in violation of gaming and betting regulations (Legge n.401) and may be conducting a fraud investigation as part of its operation “Knocked Down.” –

The following sites have been shut down by the Italian government:


Lowest-unique bid auctions have allegedly infringed upon the following law in Italy (translated from Italian):

Article. 4 (entitled “Unlawful participation in the organization of games of chance” ) of Law n.401 December 13, 1989 , under which literally reads “The penalties under this article shall be applicable to anyone, without the concession, permit or license under Article 88 of the Consolidated public safety laws, approved by Royal Decree of June 18, 1931, No 773, as amended, any organized activity conducted in Italy to accept or collect or otherwise encourage the acceptance or otherwise harvesting, including by telephone or electronically, for bets of any kind by any person in Italy or ‘foreign

Would you consider lowest-unique bid auction sites to be gambling?

We have been noticing that many, if not all of the lowest-unique bid sites, that operate in the US are located in offshore locations. Some have argued that because lowest unique bid sites like sends users signals that they are not gambling.

Discuss lowest unique bid auctions in our penny auction forum.

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5 comments… add one
  • John from Snagoo April 30, 2010, 11:04 pm

    Hmm, well I'm obviously biased because I run a Lowest Unique Bid site, but honestly I can see how it would be considered gambling depending on how it is run.

    In situations where there are indicators or signals for the current status of your bid throughout the auction, there is certainly strategy involved in winning. But then again, there is strategy involved in poker, blackjack, etc and that is still gambling. I think it really depends on how the site operates.

    I WOULD like to take a moment to mention, as this article is extremely timely for our big news from Snagoo, that Snagoo is now completely free to bid on. Which means: there is no way Snagoo could be considered gambling 🙂 You can win, but you can't lose.

    Rock on PAW, keep up the excellent work!

  • Jared July 15, 2012, 1:08 pm

    I think you should clarify that penny auctions are different to ‘lowest unique bid’ auctions. And there is NO law in Italy that says penny auctions are illegal, as they are 100% legal to run.


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