Rome (Italy). It’s not a game. It’s a gamble. The expression is the red thread that crosses with different nuances the interventions that took place Saturday, March 30th at the Conference “With gambling you can’t play. Inform prevent educate “.

The voices of the speakers, using different angles and approaches, analyzed the socio-cultural and psychological causes, the intertwining of economics and politics of the “gambling system”, a phenomenon that undermines the common good and infuses the idea that wealth is a whimsical gift of the goddess of luck.

The “gambling system: a growing phenomenon”

107,000,000,000 euros. This is the figure that in Italy in 2018, was spent in the game. It is a busted system, the wrong one presented, by Don Benoni Ambarus, Director of Caritas of Rome, among the promoters of the Conference, together with the «Auxilium» Faculty and the Rosetta Family Home Association »of Caltanissetta.

The contours of the phenomenon position Rome as the European gambling capital not only for adults. Gambling, prohibited by law for minors, is instead an integral part of adolescents’ lives. According to the Rome Caritas research “Adolescents and Gamblers” of 2018 in the Capital, two boys out of three (66.3%) between 13 and 17 play gambling at least once a year; 36.3% declare to be a regular player, at least once a month, through sports betting, scratch cards, slot machines, prize competitions. 62.8% know their peers closely who play.

The analysis of Don Ambarus denounces gambling as an “invasive supermarket of offers” that starts from the machines for children, giving away balls and puppets, and arrives at the game, but we should rather talk about randomness, the use of a lot of money and the impossibility of controlling the result.

In 2003, the State Monopoly was transformed into the Customs and Monopoly Agency, whose purpose is to produce profits. Today, the state prefers to feed the gambling system, rather than treat those who are dependent on it or promote correct information about the system. It is urgent not to underestimate the phenomenon, to monitor above all the quality of life and relationships of the elderly who, for Don Benoni, are “the new and in the near future subjects at risk”, to demand joint action between the policy and the citizen. In fact, in the face of a civil society that is starting to become sensitized and aware of the problem, politics is instead lagging behind, if not absent on a commitment that, starting from the alarming statistics, becomes aware that behind the numbers there are people.


Game and emotions: prevention

“You can’t live without daring but you don’t have to play money to do it”.  This is the opinion of Umberto Nizzoli, clinical psychologist and psychotherapist, one of the most profound connoisseurs of addictions in general. In his speech, he puts the game in relation to emotions, to specify how «gambling-related activities are articulated along a continuum that starts from the playful-recreational, social and institutional aspects of the practice that can be highly pleasurable and even recommended.” It is obvious that those who are more vulnerable, i.e. with fewer cognitive, emotional, social, and economic tools, are more exposed to developing impulsive behaviors or being involved in strong emotions or implementing risky behaviors. Consequently, “prevention can develop at many levels, from the macro-political to the personal”, without forgetting the families of those involved in the game on the path of care and proximity.

Dependencies: care and proximity

Angela Sardo is the Director of the “Promised Land” Community of the Casa Famiglia Rosetta Association of Caltanissetta. Since 1989, the year in which she arrived at the Association, she has been in contact with young people and young adults with problems of pathological dependence and behavioral disorders, who have decided to undertake paths of recovery and social reintegration.

The program takes particular account of the families of young people, also designing for them personalized itineraries “because – he says – you can never face the problem from a single point of view”.

“The families of gamblers – he explains – have stories of desperation behind them: the relationship and affections were upset by the tsunami that hit their home creating damage, emptiness, loneliness, fear, and lies. It is therefore important to involve and start again from the family to rebuild the person, accompanying her/him to bring order into life ».

The therapeutic path is a plural accompaniment, which appeals to many allies to support the possible relapse into addiction. It is also a path of protection that includes the help of financial advisors to redesign their existence and lifestyle, the recovery of personal well-being, reintegration into society.

Antonio Urriani, an educator in the same community, also reaffirms the importance of the family in the rehabilitation process. He is part of the team that takes care of the last phase, the one before the social reintegration and in the family of the young guests. The player is a “pathological liar and player always losing in search of risk”. The precise “Promised Land” program “is a group approach, based on the encounter between people who tend to not recognize their own problem. A special role is played by the “tutor”, usually a family member: It is a difficult task, but it is based on forgiveness, an objective linked to the recovery of the “we” at the family level and the rediscovery of the person”.

Finally, Gabriele Mandolesi of the SlotMob Movement, argues that there is “an urgent need to reverse the course, putting the protection of people with respect to economic interests at the center”. In fact, the state and private companies in the sector, in a concession regime, manage the gambling market with turnovers and profits that other production sectors can only dream of earning. “All this – Mandolesi further specifies – generates a series of problems that have to do with social justice”.

The next appointment is for Saturday 6 April 2019 with two other scheduled events:

15.30-17.45: The thematic itinerary

In the Aula Magna «Giovanni Paolo II» of the «Auxilium» Faculty (Via Cremolino 141) there will be a thematic course on gambling with the young students and past pupils of the Faculty of the «Enthous» theater group and of the students of the Professional University School of Italian Switzerland (SUPSI). The artists will talk on the music and the plot of “The other stories of Don Giovanni” by W.A. Mozart with the stories of those he met, lived, and came out of addiction. the SlotMob

With the animation of the SlotMob Movement: a flashmob at the Bar “Black’n White” (via Selva Candida 114): party and music, listening to testimonies and awarding of young managers who have decided not to put a slot machine in their stores, but to make room for people.

“You don’t play with gambling. Inform prevent educate” is organized by the Faculty of Education Sciences” Auxilium “in collaboration with” Association Casa Famiglia Rosetta onlus “of Caltanissetta, Caritas of Rome and Caritas Porto-Santa Rufina, with the University of Applied Sciences of Switzerland (SUPSI) and the Conservatory of Italian Switzerland, with the SlotMob Movement and the Bar “Black’n White”. The events are sponsored by the Italian Embassy to the Holy See and have found the support of NexumStp.


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