Vatican City, September 5 - Opponents of the proliferation of slot machines in Italy said Thursday that they've received encouragement from Pope Francis. The non-profit organization Vita says that during a meeting, the pope encouraged group members to continue to work against the distribution of slot machines and for education - especially of young people - about the risks of gambling addiction. Group members had written to Pope Francis in June asking for his support. Meanwhile on Thursday, the Italian Senate voted in favour of a Northern League motion calling for a ban on the opening of new gambling enterprises in Italy for a year. There is concern that the rapid spread of gambling outlets and Internet betting sites after liberalisations is causing a rise in addictions and huge hardship for the families of victims. 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. The number of registered gambling devices have increased 91.2% since 2012, while the number of establishments with slot machines have nearly doubled.