AgiproNews’ Italian View: ISS study outlines complex make-up of Italian problem gambling

Published this October, the Italian National Institute of Health (ISS) study on Italian gambling has shed significant light on the realities of tackling problem gambling within Italy.

Undertaking Italy’s first ‘epidemiological study’ on problem gambling trends, effects and triggers, the ISS surveyed 12,000 adults, representing the nation’s most comprehensive research on gambling trends to date.

Presented to the Italian Parliament last week, the study outlines that circa 18 million Italians (1-in-3) gambled at least once in the past year.

Within the findings, its is speculated that 13 million Italians are reported to be ‘recreational players’, whilst the ISS believes that at present 2 million Italians maintain a ‘low-risk gambling profile’.

Nevertheless, the ISS research outlines that at present 1.5 million Italians (3% of the population) can be classified as ‘problem players’.

At a consumer level, Italian gambling continues to be a land-based trend, with Scratch cards (26.2%), Lotto (12.8%), SuperEnalotto (10.9%), and slot machines (7.4%) leading engagements.

In its study, the ISS reveals that 94% of Italian gambling consumers prefer to wager via land-based/physical premises such as tobacconists, bars, arcades and betting shops, whilst online gambling is still considered a niche vertical.

Amongst the problem players, the age group of between 50 and 64 have the highest representation (35.5%), a glaring concern as Italy maintains Europe’s largest elderly population (23%).

Italy’s problem gambling behaviour is mainly associated with the use of slots (51.9%), VLTs (33.6%) and virtual bets (11.7%).

Further problem gambling concerns, see the ISS report indicate that minors appear to be engaging more with gambling products – Scratch cards (21.1%), sports betting (17.1%), virtual games (8.1%) and slots (6.8%), raising concerns with regards to age verification and monitoring standards.

According to the research undertaken on a 15,600 student sample aged between 14 to 17, almost 700,000 underage students have engaged in wagering at least once in the past year, with the ISS detailing that almost 70,000 minors are said to be problem gamblers. 

At first glance, the ISS research could be used to back the Lega-5Star coalition government’s tougher anti-gambling stance. However, in its report, the health institute categorically emphasized that an advertising/marketing ban would have little to no impact on Italian gambling trends.

‘Only 19.3% of the players who watched the gaming advertisement chose to play after viewing it, while 80.7% claim they were not conditioned.’

Following the publication of the ISS study, Moreno Marasco President of Italian online gambling trade body ‘LOGiCO’, stated that the research highlighted the vast difference in safer-gambling controls between digital incumbents and their land-based counterparts.

“The evidence and statistics, confirms what LOGiCO has maintained for some time, online gambling verticals offer better procedures for identifying problem gamblers and limiting services to vulnerable consumers.”

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