(Gratta e Vinci)
In the last few decades, the Italian political class has done its best to instil in the public a sense of general and widespread mistrust. Years of public television debates, where politicians seemed to compete against each other to shout out vulgarities, culminated in the never-ending carousel of the previous Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi, and totally alienated Italians from their political leaders. The centralization of the major political parties and the disappearance of charismatic figures left a void that is hard to fill, and corruption seems to have completely overtaken the system. During 2011, roughly 10% of the parliament, or 88 members, had a pending judgment, while 29 were convicted of different crimes. None of those members resigned.
Though the recent years of Italian politics may sound like an Italian comedy, they are a tragedy. Currently, Italy has one of the highest public debts in the world, amounting to the incredible sum of 1,298,000,000,000 Euros. In particular, younger people will suffer the brunt of this burden. Many factories are closing or being moved to more convenient production sites, leaving many workers in redundancy. During 2011, many of the rights acquired during the last 60 years by the Workers Unions vaporized under the reign of FIAT director Marchionne, who threatened to close production plants in Torino. An unemployment rate of 9.3% at the beginning 2012 (32.6% among those aged 15- 24), the abundance of precarious jobs, and a progressive increase in the retirement age does not leave a lot of hope.
Ironically the government itself, through the Independent Administration of State Monopolies (AAMS), pushes on the hope of the Italians by “ensuring a legal and responsible gaming environment.” With a total volume of 80 billion Euros, legal gambling is the third major Italian industry after ENI and FIAT. The volume of gambling seems to grow proportionally with the Italian economic problems. Though Italy is sixth in the world when it comes to pro capita gambling losses, when the total volume of gambling is considered, Italy is actually in first place. The state revenues for all the various gambling games in 2011 amounted to 13.7 billion Euros, making it one of the most important considerations in the state balance. It is not surprising, then, the attention which is given to its promotion. An advertisement titled “The first time, you will never forget it,” where a young guy seems to prepare himself for his first date with a girl, but in reality is preparing for his first time with a slot machine, was recalled from national TV channels after few days of screening. The gambling market includes different types of games: horse races, bingo, lotto, slots, on-line games, and various lotteries.
One of these games is the instantaneous lottery. As the government declared in 1994: “To this game, the name “Gratta e Vinci (“Scratch and Win”) has been given,” which synthesizes the dynamic of playing: The buyer feels as if they are the exclusive leader of their own relation with luck.” The model “Mega Turista per Sempre,” or “Mega Tourist Forever,” advertises an initial win of 200,000 Euros, followed by 15,000 Euros monthly for the next 20 years. Though this game may seem appealing, in reality the probability of winning is one in 2,880,000.
In truth, it would be almost one thousand times easier to gain the same amount of money by becoming a member of parliament, since the salary of the Italian members of parliament is the highest in Europe at more than 15,000 Euros per month.