Rome

Official calls for help stopping gambling addiction

Comprehensive plan needed for addicts, says Magistro

Official calls for help stopping gambling addiction

Rome, July 18 - Italy must develop a wide-reaching response to the growing issue of problem gambling, a senior public official said Thursday. "We need a comprehensive plan that involves all institutional players," with an emphasis on "the prevention of problem gambling," said Luigi Magistro, deputy director of customs and monopolies. Speaking to a conference on responsible gaming, Magistro said authorities have been working on how best to deal with addiction problems but must now look for preventative measures to avoid addiction in the first place. Gambling addiction is a growing problem in Italy, fed by government-operated gaming as well as illegal betting. Studies released late last year by trade union confederation CGIL showed a 691% jump between 2005 and 2010 in the number of people seeking professional help to deal with gambling addictions. Over that same period, the number of people seeking help for drug addictions increased by 23%. And a report last year from Italy's Catholic social-service group CEIS found that gambling is Italy's third-largest industry, earning 47.5 billion euros in revenue in 2008. Its study found that 47% of Italy's poor and 66% of the unemployed are known to gamble. The study also showed that 47% of youth aged 15-24 have played video poker and slot machines. Online betting, which tripled in 2011, is growing the fastest, as gamblers spent 1.5 billion euros on the Internet last year. Gambling revenue in Italy was up 28.8% to 23.2 billion in the first quarter of 2012.

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