The obscurantist respectability

Pierluigi Battista (author of a beautiful and disturbing article in the Corriere del 21 gennaio u.s.) allows us to use the concept he expressed, for what the public gaming sector is going through in Italy. The occasion is given by the issue of the amendments approved recently to the Tuscany regional law n. 57/13, which again brings us back to a strange context, that of obscurantist respectability.

As we all know, with a use that is, to say the least, without prejudice to the principle of subsidiarity, the regions and local authorities under the umbrella of the competing competences on public health for a few years and more and more intensely, regulate the game in a restrictive way to say the least . So much so as to raise a question also judicial on the expulsive effect of the game that these regulations produce.

The health umbrella is accompanied by media campaigns to cut "haters" on the entire sector, however dense numbers in freedom that ever - and we never repeat - give the real representation of what they proclaim, as the number of those who would be suffering from GAP (pathological gambling), that on the expenditure of citizens (recently divided by municipality in a totally inconsistent way), that (which is not found) on costs of care in proportion to the number of potentials affected by GAP, the most relevant but completely ignored on the pre-emergence situation, and so on. Of course, nobody wants to deny the problem or disregard the need for intervention, it would be anachronistic and irresponsible. But using improper methods is not only unedifying but counterproductive.

We come to the specific case: the bill - which changes the Law of the Region of Tuscany n. 57/2013 on the subject of gambling - was approved by majority (28 votes in favor, no vote against, abstained the group of the League) by the Third Council Commission "Health and social policies" in the session of 16.01.2018. The news are:

1) In the original text the regional law established that the opening of "gaming halls and play areas" was prohibited within a radius of 500 meters from a series of sensitive points. The modification proposal maintains the 500 meters but explicitly inserts the betting corners (that is to say the structures dedicated in a non-exclusive way to the collection of bets) between the points of play subject to the distance meter. Furthermore, the new installation of slots is also prohibited for the interiors of the spaces mentioned. Another important update regards the extension of the definition of "new installation" even in the case of the signing of a new contract (following withdrawal or termination of the existing contract) or installation of the equipment in other premises, following the transfer of the office.

2) The list of sensitive places is expanded: to schools, places of worship, sports and recreational centers and health facilities are added banks, ATMs and buy gold. Municipalities, within certain limits, are also given the power to identify other sensitive places.

3) The obligation for managers, as well as for their employees, to participate in specific refresher and training courses is introduced, the costs of which are borne by the managers. Failure to comply with the training obligation implies a fine of between € 1,000 and € 5,000, accompanied by a warning to participate in the first available training offer. Failure to comply with the warning involves the temporary closure of the operation until the obligation is fulfilled.

4) It is also prohibited "any advertising activity related to the opening or exercise of spaces for the game with cash winnings or betting centers".

5) A terminological modification is also carried out: the word ludopathy is replaced wherever it appears with the definition "pathological gambling".

6) The art. 16 of the Tuscany Region Law n. 57/2013, which provides for the application of the prohibitions to commercial establishments not yet operating at the date of entry into force of the law, "until the expiry of the relevant qualification".

We will enter only superficially the individual forecasts, which each deserve a specific in-depth analysis - which we reserve to do here too - to highlight the inconsistencies. The first is undoubtedly the premise on which the Region bases the provision, namely that the norm of the Stability 2016 is aimed at reducing the points of play: well no, the dictation of that primary rule is much more articulated than the Tuscany Region in its text: not only that of reducing the game points - a desired effect within a general framework of sector reform - but that of "define (re) the characteristics of the points of sale where public gaming is collected, as well as the criteria for their distribution and territorial concentration, in order to guarantee the best levels of safety for the protection of health, public order and public faith of the players and to prevent the risk of access to minors. The agreements reached in the Unified Conference are acknowledged by a decree of the Minister of Economy and Finance, after hearing the competent parliamentary commissions".

The misrepresentation of reality at its root is serious, as well as the superficiality with which we write, we evaluate, judge and communicate certain rules, which by degree and importance affect both the lives of those to whom they are addressed, and on that of the country. Because the message that is spread through these rules is not the one that leads to the desired effect, that is, to systematically address both the role of the state and its components on the game, and the organization and its pathological drifts, but that an unsustainable compression, whose effect is not - or is not only - the expulsive one, but the one generating illegality, untraceable pathologies, judicial chaos, unreliability of the institutions.

We close by quoting some news that leaves us to reflect.

Argentina: after the announcement of the governor of Buenos Aires, María Eugenia Vidal, to have ordered the closure of three casinos and a bingo hall, Julieta Vacas, coordinator of the Ludopatia Assistance Center, which in Argentina has ten offices distributed throughout the province replied that studies, from 2005 to today, show that the risk is high among young people but that it is "an addiction and has nothing to do with the closure or not of casinos. Today, in fact, we have the game always in hand, we bet with the phone, so if you close a physical room the problematic player does not stop playing, but goes to bet "online".

Germany: the "German distance meter", unlike the Italian one, does not concern the distance from the so-called sensitive places but the distance between one hall and another. A principle, therefore, that seems to go in the opposite direction, namely to avoid the concentration of supply, unlike the Italian, whose immediate effect is to remove the game from city centers to concentrate in the suburbs.

The Regional Court of Administrative Justice - Autonomous Section of Bolzano, in relation to the appeal on the revocation of a room on the basis of the "distance meter" has thus arranged: "considering the importance that the verification of the proposed expulsive effect of the rule suspected of unconstitutionality assumes seat of the deliberation on the non-manifest groundlessness of the profiled question of constitutional legitimacy (...) has deemed necessary to have a technical consultancy aimed at ascertaining the impact of the limits prescribed by the provision in question on the market in question and on consumer behavior".