The Italian government has some problems these days. Under pressure from global credit watchers to prove it won’t be following Greece into fiscal oblivion, Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has sought to slash spending and find new revenue where it can be found.
For instance, reports Global Post:
The emergency austerity budget that Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s government approved in July — intended to reassure nervous investors — includes a little-noticed provision allowing 200 online casinos to operate in Italy. These will feed the country’s gambling addiction, by offering all the services of a normal casino, such as roulette and poker, from the comfort of home, or pretty much anywhere for that matter, via smartphone apps.
The government hopes that tax revenues and fees from the industry will help replenish empty coffers.
Yet the move has sparked outrage from consumer associations and civil society groups. “From today it is possible to become gambling addicts by law,” wrote one such group, Libera.
It should be noted that legalized gambling is already quite entrenched in Italian life — much more so than in the District. As the Global Post article notes: “With less than 1 percent of the world’s population, it accounts for a remarkable 23 percent of the global gaming market, estimated to be worth $368 billion last year. ... Aside from lotteries and four casinos, there are scratch cards for sale in cafes, supermarkets and even at post offices. Lotto and “super lotto” drawings occur three times a week, with multimillion-dollar jackpots. There are also bingo halls, and betting parlors where you can wager on nearly anything. And nearly every bar and café has a money eating machine. Online poker is legal too.”
In other words, the District has other options: Lose the “iGaming,” open the bingo halls!