Italy: stopping gambling costs 602 million a month


Following the coronavirus emergency, the 9th of March the Italian Government has declared the shutdown, followed few days lated by the announcement of the complete closure of all non-essential activities.

Among the many categories afflicted by the emergency, traditional gambling is one that could cost the Italian treasury up to 602 millions of euros per month in taxes, according to the financial newspaper Il Sole 24 Ore.

With their restrictions, the Government have blocked the access to traditional gambling, a habit still deep-rooted in Italian society, as many Italians have not yet switched to online gaming. This includes video-slots, slot machines, sport bets and Bingo.

On the contrary, British gamblers have moved their activities online in a more consistent way, in advance compared to Italians. This is clear by the data from the UK Gambling Commission and from the success of many slots and games released on online platforms, like the live game Lightning Baccarat or the online video-slot Gorilla Gold Megaways

Despite online activities being available to Italian citizens, the cost of shutting down the Italian offline gambling industry is going to cost their Government a lot. According to estimates, this could be up to 602 millions of euros per month.

This shocking number does not include the stop of Lotto and SuperEnalotto, which has been enforced a few days ago. The measure has been taken for avoiding queues and unnecessary movement of people to their local shops. Surely this is a historical move, not even during WW2 the Italian Lotto had not been completely stopped.

The situation will result in an even larger hole in the Italian treasury.

According to the 2019 data, offline gambling is a big business in Italy, one that guarantees the State about 13 billions in taxes per year. More than half of this comes from slot machines placed in bars and slot rooms, widespread in the territory. 350 millions in taxes come from sport bets, while Bingo counts around 190 millions.

Economist are not able to quantify the effects of the emergency on the Italian system, nor on a worldwide scale. What we know so far, is that the economic crisis that will follow the health emergency is going to be much more serious than the 2008 financial crisis.

Italian experts have estimate that only 50% of shapes forced to stay closed during the pandemic will be able to open again. The number of unemployed, in a country that already has a high number of them, is going to raise exponentially. The consequences in the next ten years are difficult to imagine, as the lifestyle of a whole population will not go back to pre-crisis standards.

The measures taken for containing the virus anticipate of approximately two weeks the emergency the UK is experiencing these days. Italy is now been looked at as by other countries around the world as a model for what could happen following the spread of COVID-19.