1.5 Italian Gamblers Considered Problem Gamblers

Publish: 21.10.2018
A new survey reveals that Italy’s ban on gambling advertising hasn’t done enough to reduce the number of problem gamblers. Those who can’t keep their eyes off “lady luck” are still flocking to gambling operators.

A recent survey by Italian health agency Istituto Superiore della Sanità (ISS), commissioned by the AAMS, the country’s gambling regulator suggests that over 36.4 percent of the Italian population has engaged in gambling activity in last 12 months. The survey was designed to oversee the scope of the nation’s gambling activity. Over 12,000 adults were surveyed in the study, making it the largest such study in the country.

According to the survey, the country ranks fifth among large European countries in terms of gambling participation. The 18.4 million people who have gambled in the past 12 months, make up for 36.4 percent of the population. The top-ranking country is Spain with 75.7 percent participation, the UK with 63 percent participation, France with 56.2 percent population and Germany with 39 percent population.

Of the gamblers, 13 million are considered ‘social gamblers’ who have no issues resulting from their activity. 2 million people are considered to be at ‘low risk’ for developing problem gambling habits. Another 1.4 million are considered at ‘moderate risk.’ 1 staggering 1.5 million adults are considered true problem gamblers. However, only 13,000 of these individuals have engaged in such extreme gambling that they need professional help for their condition.

The survey also found that older population, especially those between 55-64 years old are more likely to opt for virtual betting, video lottery terminals, and slots. All these are land-based activities in Italy. The problem gamblers are also more likely to opt for unapproved activities by the state, both online and land-based.

By mirroring studies in other countries, ISS found that Italian gamblers are more likely to abuse tobacco, alcohol and other drugs. Therefore, problem gamblers in Italy have issues resisting temptations in all forms. They also have problems in assessing risky situations and adapting to them.

The new government in Italy recently announced a blanket ban on gambling advertising and sponsorships in the country to limit problem gambling activity. The ban is currently facing legal challenges, including those by mobile casino operator LeoVegas, which has filed multiple petitions in the European Union courts.

The survey could further strengthen the case against the ban as it suggests its ineffectiveness in handling problem gambling. Most notably, the survey concludes that only 19.3 percent of Italians gambled in the last one year because they saw a gambling advert. Another 80.7 percent said that the ads have no effect on their willingness to gamble.