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Italy's gambling addiction out of control


In an effort to boost revenue to pay off public debt, Italy has plans to open up 1,000 new gambling arcades.

Yet some of the country's leaders are concerned at how this will impact Italy's growing problem with gambling addiction. Estimates made in 2010 found that Italy's spending on gambling was the fifth highest in the world--excluding places like Monaco, where gambling is part of the economy.

Lives in ruin

Monica Pavesi, a bar owner in Cremona, a town south of Milan, recently became famous when she removed gambling machines from her establishment, despite the fact that it gave her a significant boost in income.

"I couldn't bear any longer to see people ruining themselves in that way," said Pavesi.

Despite the growing problem, experts say that, in Italy, gambling still isn't recognized as a legitimate addiction. Therefore, people with real problems can't get the help they need under the Italian healthcare system. Furthermore, this prevents the country from being able to come up with any sort of reliable number on how many gambling addicts Italy really has.

The gambling industry in Italy--like most countries--doesn't seem to be affected by economic crises.

Gamblers start young

Many people are also worried that too many Italian teens are getting into gambling, setting themselves up for miserable financial losses early on.

In a recent survey, about 57 percent of teens said they gambled so they could "get rich."

Source: Guardian UK