Gambling in Italy

Plenty of opportunities

Like most people Italians aren’t averse to placing the odd wager, and there are plenty of opportunities (but, alas, little chance) to win millions of euros on the weekly state lottery, which also offers many smaller prizes.

You can check your numbers in the Giornale Ufficiale. Other lotteries and prize draws include Gratta e Vinci (scratch and win – or more often lose!) cards, Totocalcio and Totogol (similar to the British football pools), Superenalotto, Totip and Lotto.

Prize money varies from game to game, but your chances of winning are generally about the same as your chance of being struck by lightning. Don’t forget to check your tickets, as every year millions of euros are unclaimed by prize winners. Should you be one of the lucky few, you will be even happier to know that all winnings are tax-free!

There are also numerous TV shows offering large cash prizes; needless to say, the Italian equivalent of ‘Who Wants to be a Millionaire?’ is among the most popular. There’s even a national association of game players (Associazione Nazionale Concorsisti Italiani) with some 200 members, which publishes a newsletter with tips on how to win radio and TV games.

If the lottery and game shows aren’t glamorous enough for you, you may wish to visit a casino ( casinò, which also means ‘brothel’!). There are a number in Italy, situated in Campione d’Italia on Lake Lugano, San Remo in Imperia (Liguria), St Vincent in Aosta (Val d’Aosta) and Venice, where the glamorous Palazzo Vendramin Calergi is open all year round, while the Lido Casino provides opportunities to lose your money from June to September only.

Both establishments are convenient stops on the Vaporetto ferry, the ‘Casino Express’. The San Remo Casino is reminiscent of many turn-of-the-century establishments, with decor to match, while the Casinò de la Vallée in St Vincent is one of the largest in Europe.

Black ties and evening wear are usually obligatory for entry to casinos, as are passports, as Italian nationals are barred unless they’re employed there (others must visit France or Switzerland for a flutter). Opening hours tend to be from around 2pm or 3pm to 2am or as late as 4.30am and the entrance fee is around €15.

Although for the majority of people gambling is harmless fun, the country also has a huge problem with gambling addiction, particularly slot machines, and there are a number organisations that work tirelessly to repair the damage caused by unbridled speculation.

This article is an extract from Living and Working in Italy. Click here to get a copy now.

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