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Video Lottery Terminals Lead To Social Concerns In Italy

Italy has always been strongly opposed to online gambling, allowing only a select number of operators to rule their gaming market. In recent years, the World Trade Organization has forced Italy to come into compliance with European Union trade agreements.

In the time since the country has started to comply, a different type of gambling has slowly chipped away at some social disorder. Italians are gambling at video lottery terminals at a record pace, and lawmakers are concerned that the social problems being caused by the VLT's has become too great.

Lawmakers at a regional level have started to act on the social ills associated with increased gambling problems. While the problem is one that is seen throughout Italy, with thousands of residents admitting to having a gambling problem, national legislators are turning a blind eye, according to one local lawmaker.

"The government gets the profits, the territory gets the problems," said Lombardy regional lawmaker Angelo Ciocca.

The social problems have led to a series of initiatives to try and reel in the amount of gambling in Italy. Several proposals have been acted upon, with most leading to a downsizing of VLT's.

In Pavia, it is estimated that there is a slot machine for every 104 people in the city. Similar figures can be seen in other areas of Italy.

Nationally, the government is raking in hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenue from the machines, leaving lawmakers to turn somewhat of a blind eye on the possible social ills. It is a stance that is duplicated in nearly every country where gambling tax revenue is a large portion of the country's budget balancing.

There's no longer a distinction between gambling and life," said sociologist Maurizio Fiasco. "There is no separate space for gambling, it is everywhere."

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