The governement protects Italian from Gambling addiction
Slot machines are fun, entertaining, and you can even win a large amount of money. This is something that the Italians and the government know, and they make good use of this knowledge, especially in times of the financial crisis today. However, when players get addicted to gambling, the experience can turn into a nightmare. Gambling addiction is becoming a real public health problem and the government of Italy seems to willingly accept that their gains derive from the losses of the population.
Spending almost tripled in the last 10 years
Since the international economic crisis in 2008, the Italians have become more keen on trying out other ideas to get some money back into their wallets. The economic crisis is probably the reason why spending on gambling has tripled in the last 10 years from €35 billion in 2006 to €95 billion in 2016, which corresponds to 4.7% of the national GDP.
Slot machines are everywhere
Since the government has decided to push gambling in the country in order to fill the state coffers the number of slot machines in the country has exploded. The games can be found everywhere, in bars, restaurants and even in small shops. There are currently almost 414,000 devices available in the country, which means 1 device for every 151 inhabitants, which can be compared to 1 for every 261 in Germany, and 1 for every 372 in the United States.
A strategy developed in 2009
When comparing today's numbers with those of the early 2000s, it is easy to see how much the importance of slot machines has grown in the country. In 2002, spending on gambling activities amounted to €17 billion, of which half was spent on the national lottery, and only 18% for slot machines. The government decided in 2009, under Berlusconi, to increase the availability instead of increasing the taxes, in order to pay for the reconstruction needed after the earthquake in Aquila.
Ludocracy in Italy
Many people in Italy have the opinion that Italy has become a true ludocracy, in which the state cares more about money and short-term solutions than the health of their citizens. The problems with gaming addiction have increased, and so did general household spending and gambling, where at the same time income decreased.
An average Italian currently spends about 13.5% of their income on gambling. Every person in Italy (even children!) spend on average €1,583 every year, but in comparison they only spend around €58 on books. Of course, not every part of the population is affected in the same way, the figures show that 47% of people living in poverty, 56% of the lower-middle-class and 40% of younger people between 15 and 19 years regularly gamble. Experts estimate now that 790,000 Italians are affected by compulsive gambling addiction and another 2 million players are at risk of falling victim to addiction.
The government has been aware of this situation for over two years now. It is estimated that public spending on health with regards to gambling addiction could now amount to €7 billion each year. New measures to tackle the problem are now being studied, such as the reduction of available slot machines and prohibiting them in certain areas, for example near schools.