Italian Online Bingo

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Bingo in Italy Some gaming experts say Italy is the largest gaming market in Europe. Several UK online bingo operators have launched sites targeting an Italian audience. Despite a recession and severe austerity measures bingo and gaming are booming in Italy. In Rome business is booming at 'Bingo Re', Europe's largest gambling arcade. Players have hundreds of slot machines to choose from, and can play bingo games in a fully catered bingo hall. Massimo Ruta, director of Italian operations for the Spanish gambling giant Codere which owns the arcade told reporters "It's been a record year for us." The Spanish gaming giant operates 3,454 slot machines in 14 gaming arcades across Italy. Revenues rose by an astounding 63.2% in 2011 generating 224.2 million euros ($294.6 million USD).

Italians wagered 79.9 billion euros last year, making the Mediterranean nation the largest gambling market outside of the United States. Bingo actually originated in Italy, contrary to the popular myth that it was invented in the United States. The gaming industry has provided a much needed windfall for the cash strapped nation. The Italian government received 9.2 billion euros last year from the gambling industry. A mountain of public debt has plunged the country into a recession and Italy has been a cause for concern in the Euro Zone. The government could receive even more money from gambling after doubling the taxes on slot machines.

Not everyone is happy about the gambling boom. Members of the government are calling for more regulation and the public has voiced concerns about the rise in gambling addiction. The industry also faces opposition from the politically powerful Catholic Church. Italian Health Minister Renato Balduzzi called gambling a 'social illness' and has called for a ban on advertising. Matteo Iori, director of the "Pope John XXIII Social Centre" said that "People are gambling more during the crisis. The prospect of a financial reward, the desire to change one's life pushes people to play."

The gambling industry disputes the contentions of gambling opponents, and say that strict regulations ensure that no 'excesses' take place. The industry also points to the 100,000 jobs that have been created by the industry in Italy. Despite the opposition, online bingo has made significant inroads in the Italian gaming market. Land based bingo is also popular. Italy was where bingo originated in the 15th century, and Italians still play Tombola ,which is a forerunner of modern bingo games. Most experts expect continued growth in the Italian gaming market.

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