The Difficult Times for Pavia: How Are the Residents of One Old Italian City Combating Gambling Addiction

The beautiful city of Pavia that rests on the banks of the Ticino river is now facing a saddening issue. But the community is fighting back, and the care and kindness of the people are on the winning side.

A Hard Decade for the Lombardian Gem

The enchanting city that rose as one of the cultural and educational centers in Lombardy in the beautiful Italian North is now faced with a saddening social issue that threatens its small and peaceful community. Once a symbol of rich history and a monument of inspiring architectural achievements, the city of Pavia is now flooded with slot machines and video poker machines.

The former capital of the Kingdom of the Lombards is now considered to be one of the European gambling capitals.

Terrible consequences of a growing number of slot machines spread like wildfire through this small and idyllic northern city. A pastime, a game, and an easy way to earn some money turned into a troubling issue that rattled the whole community. The number of addicts reached a critical point, and sad life stories began piling up. Psychologist Simone Feder is one of the residents that witnessed these heartbreaking stories firsthand. His patients vary from young to seniors, from highly-educated to those without college degrees, from single to those with families. This fact tells a lot about how gambling addiction can strike any social group. There are no rules here, and many individuals fall into a psychological profile of a potential gambling addict.

The Heartbreaking Stories and the Hard-To-Break Contracts

One of the saddest stories about gambling addiction in beautiful Pavia comes from a fence-maker that stood on the verge of suicide. Gambling addiction pushed this man into terrible debts, and they pushed him into stealing. Luckily, the man welcomed professional help and is now going through the rehabilitation process.

It’s hard to say what turned this fairy-tale-like city into “Las Vegas of Italy” because it’s rather a combination of unfortunate events and bad decisions than one single thing. During the 70s, the city’s economy fell apart, as its industry collapsed. Bad economy killed cultural and social life. This turn of events damaged the town significantly, and writer Giulia Cavaliere sadly points this out as one of the biggest issues in Pavia. Apart from the world-famous University in Pavia, there are not many cultural centers. But the city’s problems worsened as one thing led to another. A weak economy and poor cultural life slowly led to the removal of gambling restrictions. Cultural and social life suffered as gambling flourished.

Soon, Pavia was almost left without bars that didn’t provide their customers with slot machines. In a number of them, customers weren’t coming in for a drink anymore but to play poker and slot machines. One can think bar owners could have easily controlled this issue, or even stopped it in its core. One could also wonder why the bar owners weren’t doing this. But the problem is not that easy. The bar owners are not the ones that own these slot machines. The machines are owned by separate companies.

This situation makes fighting against gambling problems in Pavia even harder. Bar owners often don’t have enough money at their disposal to get out of the contracts with the companies that own these machines. Besides that, many of them depend on the income that these machines bring to their business. But ever since gambling addiction issues turned uglier in the city of Pavia, some bar owner started taking action.

Senza Slot and the Residents of Pavia Joining Forces

One of these bar owners is Matteo Tacchinardi. He has slot machines in his bar, but he refuses to give customers change in the form of coins if he has a reason to suspect that they would gamble. Additionally, those that help the community even more are people like Riccardo Bernasconi. This man is the owner of one of the rare slot-free bars. He decided not to promote gambling out of the concern for the students in this university center. All of the efforts like these improve the situation in Pavia, but the gambling problem in this city is still far from solved.

Luckily, Senza Slot movement was formed, and this organization is doing their best to solve the gambling problem in Pavia. They helped the city a lot during the past years, and their continuous efforts give us hope that a promising turn of events will take place. But the members of Senza Slot are aware of all the obstacles in their way, probably more than anybody else. They see contracts between bar owners the companies that own slot machines as one of the biggest issues. Fortunately, authorities stepped in and joined the battle. Now, new regulations are enforced to help the most vulnerable ones — the young and the elderly. Anyone can develop gambling addiction, but it’s probably the most tragic when it strikes students and the elderly. Bar owners, members of Senza Slot, and authorities as well agree on this. So thanks to the new regulations, bars that offer slot machines can no longer be near schools, retirement communities, and churches.

Many Battles Are Yet to Be Won…

All of these efforts made significant improvements, but Senza Slot knows that there is more to be done. Senza Slot members are aware of the fact that as much as new regulations damage the local gambling businesses, small nearby towns also offer gambling opportunities. It seemed like the smart approach to the issue would be to promote the slot-free bars, not just enforce restrictions for those that have slot machines. So, soon, the authorities rewarded slot-free bars with better working hours.

Senza Slot members inspired their community to face and solve this burning issue. This brave organization demonstrated high social awareness and love for their community. Many battles have been won, but the fight is still raging on. Members of Senza Slot and residents of this quite small town hope that Pavia will soon return to its former glory. Pavia has been inspiring both entire Europe and Italy for centuries with its architecture, culture, university, history, and spirit. Now, Pavia has a fantastic opportunity to inspire other communities to face their issues and better the lives of their residents. Maybe some other cities will decide to follow in the footsteps of Pietro Pace, Mauro Vanetti, Ludovica Cassetta, and other Senza Slot activists.

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