Milan’s municipal police carried out a wave of checks on over 1,000 slot-machine halls around the city during February in a crack-down on illicit operations.
Fines were levied on 124 managers for disobeying various regulations designed to protect the elderly, under-18s and the “fragile” – usually taken to mean suffers from GAP, or pathological gambling syndrome, which has been reported to lead to family bankruptcies and even suicides.
Most of the fines were handed out for exceeding the permitted opening hours, which in Milan are from 09.00 to 12.00 and from 18.00 to 23.00. Other city, regional and national regulations specify the checking of gamblers’ age, the location of the hall at a minimum distance from schools and hospitals, the layout of the hall allowing the manager to keep an eye on the activity, and the outlawing of blacked-out windows.
Fines are usually of €450, but for repeat offenders – of which there were “several” in February, the one-arm bandits can be sealed by the police, or – in the case of dedicated halls with no other activity – the licence can be suspended for five days.
In some areas of Milan, citizens’ associations have promoted campaigns to limit the number of halls, known in Italian as sala slot.