Gambling across borders

A blog about the productive life of risk

Posts Tagged ‘Italy

Are the Borders Falling Down?

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In a recent article in FT, Guy Dinmore has argued that ‘the Italians gamble through austerity’. The article states that Italians spent an estimated €80bn on legal gaming last year – more than €1,300 each. Since 2006, the Italian government has both liberalised and regulated the sector. The outcome of such strategy is more licences being issued for new segments such as slot machines, bingo, online poker and live poker rooms. In 2011, Italian gambling industry had a gross earning of €18.5bn, which is more than 50 per cent in five years.

For the past eight months, I have been living in Nova Gorica, a ‘casino town’ on the border between Italy and Slovenia. The above mentioned numbers are a constant cause for concern for the gaming industry people on the Slovenian side. Since the golden age of casinoland (mid 1990’s), Italian players have made up to 95 per cent of the overall visitors. The specific economic and symbolic exchanges in this area have actually been sustained by the border itself. First as a dividing line between socialism and capitalism, later as an outcome of different gaming laws in the two neighbouring countries.

Italy has very few land based casinos so the majority of Italians prefer to travel across to Slovenia. Some travel even from as far as Rome. However, with this massive change in Italian gaming licences, Slovenian casinos have suffered a great deal. I am told by people in Nova Gorica that casinos will have to think hard to beat the new competition in the form of a more liberalised Italian gambling outputs. What else can they offer their Italian gusts to win them over once again? With all the travel expenses to Slovenia and from recently easy access to gambling at home, what would keep an Italian player loyal to their old routine of border-crossing?

A very similar phenomenon is happening in the USA – the decision of the State of Massachusetts to allow gambling will seriously affect the neighbouring casinos built on the Native American land. Those were also sustained by the border dynamics between inside and outside of the American national territory.

It will indeed be interesting to watch how the life of these borderlands will change due to new gaming laws. And will they remain borderlands?


Written by Andrea Pisac

May 10, 2012 at 3:57 pm

Posted in News

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