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Although it may come as a surprise to some, Italy is the fourth largest gambling market in the world and a leader in Europe, ahead even of the United Kingdom. Thanks to this fact, the country’s total intake from the gambling revenues, according to Wall Street estimates, is around €88 billion. However, this is about to change somewhat, as the country has decided to declare war on slot machines.

Teo Teocoli leaning on a slot machine

‘Teo Teocoli, famous Italian anchorman and imitator, leans on a slot machine in the coffee bar Vega in Piazza Istria; the actor has become famous in the Eighties thanks to the tv show Non lo sapessi ma lo so together with his colleague Massimo Boldi. Milan (Italy), October 13th, 2011.

Slot Machines Culture

A popularity of slots in Italy experienced a huge surge in 2001, with the ascension of Silvio Berlusconi to power. Since that year, slot machines have found their way into nearly every corner of the country, leaving confines of the casinos and situating themselves in coffee shops and other public locations. Quite literally, there is a slot wherever you turn.

According to some statistics, there is one slot machine per 125 residents of the country. It is thus no surprise that revenue produced by slots is eight times bigger than that of any other casino game in existence. The amounts of money raked are truly head-spinning.

Addressing Problem Gambling Issue

Despite huge revenues for the country, this kind of slots culture doesn’t come without other, not so desirable consequences. According to some studies, the number of problem gamblers in Italy exceeds one million. Considering the total population of around 60 million, this is hardly a negligible number.

While the country has become somewhat dependent on the gambling revenues, local governments have been putting forth considerable efforts to bring this issue under control. Finally, there is a plan in works, which should see about a third of all slots in the country removed.

The first slot machines to be hit by this new legislation would be the ones close to sensitive places, like schools, churches, and senior centers. By setting up minimum distance requirements, many slot parlors would be taken out of the picture once their contracts expire. While this would not resolve the problem completely, it should be a step in the right direction in dealing with problem gambling.

Other Concerns

However, not everyone shares this opinion. Some believe removing legal slot parlors would do nothing to actually protect the citizens, but it would give wings to illegal operators. While this concern does have its merits, it is also probably true that fewer people would be ready to gamble in illegal parlors.

There are also budget concerns connected to the reduction of the slot machines number. However, there is a plan in place which should enable this process to take place without any severe consequences on local or state budgets.

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