Complex factors and behaviors in the gambling population of Italy

Abstract

Gambling has seen significant growth globally, and particularly in Italy: it has rapidly evolved from a simple recreational activity to represent 4% of Italian GDP in 2010.A sample of 4.494 gamblers was drawn from IPSAD-Italia®2007-2008 (Italian Population Survey on Alcohol and Drugs) in order to examine different gambling patterns (assessed using the Canadian Problem Gambling Index Short form scale).Separate analysis was performed on young adults, age 15–24 (n = 1,241; male 56.2%), and adults, age 25–64 (n = 3,253; male 53.8%): compared with adults, Italian youth, although they gambled less (35.7% vs. 45.3%), appeared to have higher prevalence of low risk gambling (6.9% vs. 5.8%) and moderate risk or problem gambling (2.3% vs. 2.2%). Males are more likely to be moderate-risk or problem gamblers. Those with only a primary education are more likely to be moderate-risk or problem gamblers (young adults: RRR = 5.22; adults: RRR = 3.23) than those with a university education, just like those youth who use depressants, but only among younger (RRR = 3.38).A fundamental issue, “do not disapprove of gambling”, seems to relate to problematic gambling: a specific Italian legislation, the Abruzzi Decree Law, could have influenced the perception that gambling may contribute positively to provide additional funds to the government for social good as well as to add needed jobs. Regardless of such potential social benefits, gambling is a social epidemic and if this association should be confirmed by more focused studies, policy makers should evaluate ways to affect this perception as soon as possible.

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