Milan sets up gambling helpline

New hot line for gambling addicts and families.

To tackle video-game addiction Milan city authorities have set up a dedicated phone line with advice and support for addicts and their families

Together with the Lombardy regional government, the city has inaugurated Telephone No Slot on the mobile phone number 335 125 1774, open 24/7, for advice on the social and health services available. Callers can contact social workers, or even just leave a recorded message.

Milan has dedicated €250,000 to the programme. It will cover immediate advice for callers worried for themselves or for family members, as well as walk-in clinics for legal, psychological or financial counsel. Trained officers will map areas of particular sensitivity, advise bar managers and take action to reduce the availability of video-game gambling to the very young and vulnerable players.

The programme will also produce educational documentaries and organise discussion in schools in and around Milan.

Regional laws have already allowed the city to close a dozen video-game centres, known in Italian as sale slot, that were too close to schools or hospitals, as well as limiting the opening hours of others.

The opening of new gaming halls in Lombardy dropped by 11 percent in 2014 – more than the overall national decrease of 8 per cent – or the equivalent of 8,000 fewer machines, said councillor Viviana Beccalossi, announcing the programme.

Over 500 checks carried out every month by Milan municipal police have brought fines to game halls opening at illegal hours. There are also citizens’ initiatives in the city to curb the proliferation of game halls.

As well as the problems of addiction, game halls also attract petty crime because of the large amounts of cash held on the premises.