Gambling, akin to a longstanding pandemic, has been a pressing issue since the 90s, according to Anna Ascani, the Deputy Chairwoman of the Italian Parliament.
During a recent event, Ascani underscored the heightened risk of gambling addiction due to widespread accessibility of physical betting outlets. “Since the proliferation of these outlets, unfortunately, we have seen an increase in gambling addiction,” she expressed.
The Hidden Price of Gambling: A Financial Paradox
Ascani presented these concerns in light of the release of a new book titled “The Gambling Pandemic. Gambling in the Time of Covid: risks, dangers and reform proposals“.
The book focuses on a range of critical issues from organised crime’s involvement to the psychological fragility of those entangled in gambling.
Ascani pointed out that the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in an interesting paradox in the gambling industry.
On one hand, lockdowns limited access to physical betting outlets, reducing the risk for those suffering from gambling addiction.
On the other hand, the pandemic accelerated the shift to online gambling, a sphere with fewer legislative controls and a more complex regulatory landscape.
As legislators, Ascani emphasised the necessity to protect citizens while grappling with the financial implications of gambling. “Honestly, gambling is a source of revenue for the state. However, the socio-sanitary cost of gambling is significantly higher. Therefore, it’s not accurate to claim there’s net revenue. Actually, what this addiction costs us far outweighs the gains, which are around 10 billion Euros. This figure highlights the burden this addiction places on the state,” she affirmed.
Implications for the iGaming Industry:
In light of Ascani’s insights, several implications arise for the iGaming industry:
- Regulation Challenge: The shift towards online gambling during the pandemic has created an urgent need for more robust legislative controls and effective regulation in the iGaming industry, highlighting the necessity for stricter rules and protocols.
- Socio-Economic Impact: The industry must consider not just the financial gains from gambling, but also the socio-sanitary costs it places on society (see here the impact of addiction in the US). This highlights the responsibility of the industry to take into account the well-being of its users.
- Awareness and Perception: The industry should actively work towards changing the perception of gambling as a ‘game’, highlighting the potential risks and the devastating impact it can have on individuals and their families.