Italy could lose around one-third of its 400,000-plus AWP machines, if prime minister Matteo Renzi has his way.
On Thursday of last week he said in an interview that he had no intention of increasing taxes on gambling or petrol in order to fund rebuilding projects after the country’s earthquakes.
On the contrary, Renzi said that his government would set into motion a plan to clear gambling machines from the country’s bars, shops and hotels. At present income from machine taxation brings in €8.2m (2015 figure).
Italy recognises the value of the taxation income although its Joint Conference of the State and Regions acknowledged that there were “social consequences.”
In addition to removing many of the machines from bars and shops, there is a plan to reduce the hours during which the machines can be operated and to clamp down on illegal gambling – of all sectors, including the country’s four casinos.
There is some scepticism among other politicians that the measures can work. Giorgia Meloni, who heads the right-wing opposition to Renzi’s government, said: “If the government brings a concrete proposal to parliament against pathological gambling, our party [Fratelli d’Italia] will give it support.”
According to official statistics gathered for a government report in late 2015, there are 1.3 million “problem gamblers” in Italy but only 12,000 are currently under treatment for addiction.
Earlier this year, Anacapri, a town on the Italian island of Capri, held a referendum on the subject of gambling machines and the result was the banning of slot machines. However, similar exercises in Bologna and Bergamo failed to result in bans.