Thursday August 22,2013 : ONLINE GAMBLING THE FASTEST GROWING IN ITALY
 
And gambling generally is the nation's third largest industry
 
Despite its economic travails, the gambling industry in Italy is apparently flourishing, with the online version of the pastime growing the fastest.
 
A Milan Chamber of Commerce study was reported by the publication Gazzetta del Sud this week, detailing a land industry in which some 9,300 businesses offer gambling of some kind, up 32.1 percent on the year, with the number of registered gambling devices up 91.2 percent since 2012, while the number of establishments with slot machines have nearly doubled.
 
The area where gambling is growing the fastest is the northern Emilia-Romagna region, followed by the central Marche region, the study found. The northern Lombardy region leads the country in overall gambling businesses with 1,342 – 14.5 percent of the Italian total, up 43.4 percent on the year.
 
And a report last year from Italy's Catholic social-service group CEIS found that gambling is Italy's third-largest industry, earning Euros 47.5 billion in revenue in 2008. The study also showed that 47 percent of youth aged 15-24 have played video poker and slot machines.
 
Online betting, which tripled in 2011, is growing the fastest, the study claims. Online punters spent Euro 1.5 billion on the Internet last year, and gambling revenue in Italy was up 28.8 percent to Euros 23.2 billion in the first quarter of 2012.
 
However, the involvement of organised crime is a concern, and in June this year police arrested 55 suspected mobsters and seized nearly half a billion Euros in assets across Italy in their biggest crackdown in years on the infamous Casalesi gang, whose most lucrative ventures, police said, were the illegal distribution of slot machines, collecting sports bets and online gambling.
 
"Police in the raid uncovered a number of websites used to manage online gambling with servers located abroad in places such as Romania," Gazzetta del Sud reports.