It is a high stakes game, making billions, but it is also creating a generation of losers: Italy is opening 1,000 new gambling arcades.It is easy money for a government struggling with huge public debts. But support groups are worried the government is feeding a growing addiction.
Italians are some of the biggest gamblers in the world. Italy has just one percent of the planet's population, but accounts for nearly a quarter of the global gaming market. Last year, the gaming industry there enjoyed a turnover of some $24bn.
The odds have clearly favoured Italy since 2002, when that figure stood at $9bn. And the government is hoping that market will get even bigger, with the opening of the new video-poker saloons. But the number of pathologically addicted gamblers is also increasing.
Studies suggest there are around 17 million active gamblers in Italy - or around 28 percent of the population.And there are concerns that up to 800,000 people may have more serious gambling problems.
The global gambling market is enormous, and set to hit half a trillion dollars. Asia is still the best bet, generating more than $145bn last year, but with a total turnover for 2012 at over $120bn, Europe is catching up; and Italy is leading the way.
So, what is Italy doing to counter the social cost of gambling? Aljazeera