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Gambling, also for tourism

Di Antonio Caneva, 6 aprile 2012

In Switzerland there used to be kursaal casinos, where people could play boule, a roulette-style game with nine numbers played with a rubber ball and a maximum stake of five Swiss Francs. It is a known fact, however, that money does not stink anywhere in the world; so it happened, with the intent to promote tourism, that in 1993 a referendum was successfully held in the Confederation and led to the enactment of a bill, in 1998, which allowed the opening of casinos featuring all types of games in the various Swiss cantons. Gambling, however, is addictive: since the time when Swiss casinos were opened, already 9900 people have been banned from going there.
In Italy, on the contrary, since the post-war period only four casinos have been active (Venice, St Vincent, Campione, Sanremo), due to specific economic and geographic factors, and despite pressures from many touristic areas, their number has never grown.
Is ours a virtuous country protecting its citizens’ morality?
It has not been permitted to increase the number of casinos, which would have been somewhat justified as tourist attractions, but a huge number of gaming opportunities have been cropping up wherever we turn, and even smartphone betting is allowed. A press release from NetBet.it reads: “With the new mobile gambling we are expecting to see a further quality leap, which according to NetBet.it will ensure a further 10% increase in online betting. For NetBet.it, the entire online gaming business will have revenues up to 44 billion euros by 2012”.
On 23 March 2012, an article of Repubblica.it wrote that National Research Council data reported half a million pathological gamblers in our country (ours is the only country were the crisis has pushed gaming revenues up by 25%, to 80 billion euros, while the rest of the world has registered a 5% decrease) and that the Minister of Health, Renato Balduzzi, having taken note of the seriousness of the situation, had pointed out that in future the thousands of compulsive gamblers in the care of SERD addiction services and voluntary organisations would have to be treated by the national health service free of charge.
Might it be that this has gone unnoticed, and the State is unaware? In an article of 2010, the daily Il Sole 24 Ore reported that Raffaele Ferrara, the General Director of State Monopolies, during a hearing of the Finance Committee of the Chamber of Deputies, was pleased to announce that the gaming turnover of Italy in that year amounted to 60 billion euros, with revenues for the State equal to 8.6 – 8.7 billion, and in his opinion that was the correct direction to pursue. Probably in order to increase revenues to allocate to the health service, to treat compulsive gamblers free of charge.

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