With the benefits of an affluent society come its perils. New programmes are in the works for the treatment of a growing problem in Tuscany, ‘pathological gambling’. The symptoms of this new pathology include addiction to lottery, video-poker, roulette and internet betting.
Lottery experts and tobacco shop owners confirm that Tuscany is frantically going after number 34 on the Cagliari wheel. The magic number hasn’t come up in 202 extractions, a new national record. Families in Prato, Florence and Massarosa have mortgaged their homes to place bets, especially behind 53 on the Venice wheel. ‘We had clients that would play 70,000 to 100,000 euroseach extraction,’ says the owner of the Ricevitoria Minarini of Florence. ‘After the troubles started with number 53, people now pay 10,000 maximum.’
The crisis has moved beyond financial woes. In 2005, a Carrara woman committed suicide, attributing her decision to excessive lottery debts. Her situation was echoed weeks later by a death in Signa, on the outskirts of Florence. The Regional Office for Addictions has been working on establishing treatment centres since 2000. The process has included training courses, development of a website listing available services, and now a treatment centre to be founded in Siena and managed by the association Ortos.