Gambling in Italy Reaches Fever Pitch

Published Wednesday, August 19, 2009 -

Italians are set on betting after the record-breaking state lottery failed to produce a winner on Tuesday, sending the jackpot up to almost 144 million euros. The promise of extreme wealth has driven the Italian population to lottery outlets in record numbers. The winning six number combination jackpot has not been won since January 31, despite draws being held three times a week, sending gambling fever through the world of wagering. The SuperEnalotto jackpot, at 143.9 million euros, is the biggest ever in Europe. Punters from other nations are lining up with Italians to get a ticket that they hope is the winner.A phone-in contest in Germany offered the winners 140 free return airline tickets from Berlin to Milan's Malpensa airport to play the lottery, the popular daily Bild reported.

Meanwhile the Catholic church is weighing in on the issue of lotteries, condemning lotteries as immoral.The church has sought to ban lotteries over the centuries, only to see them revived by governments as a handy income source.

The hard-pressed Italian Treasury, will be the biggest winner, it sees lottery money go a long way to compensate for low tax revenues as Italy grapples with its recession. The Italian Treasury will keep about half of more than 2 billion euros of bets laid since the last jackpot in January. The rest will be paid out in winnings and divided between ticket vendors and lottery organiser Sisal SpA. The SuperEnalotto fever saw monthly bets on the game rise to 441 million euros in July from a more usual 200 million euros. Betting rose a further 67.8 percent in the first half of August from the same period in July, and has risen 13.2 percent in the last week from the week before. It looks like the whole world is watching this one and eventually the win will happen. Online gambling in Italy is in the cards, the will is obviously there, it's only a matter of time.

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