Italy faced the covid-19 emergency through the so-called “mitigation” approach (Giarelli & Vicarelli, 2020), having a significant impact on health conditions and people's behaviours, like gambling. Gambling is a growing phenomenon affecting about 36.4% of the Italian population with implications on social relations, economy and public health. Specifically, during the lockdown period, the access to Italian on-site game rooms was reduced (Prime Ministerial Decree of 8/3/20) by limiting game opportunities, except for online ones. This fact led to a change in gambling, highlighting the importance of both online gambling and the development of public prevention measures.
The paper aims to study how environmental variables, such as Covid-19 containment measures, could affect gambling behaviour and whether this may have an impact on public policies.
The study was carried out through a comparative analysis of scientific articles, regulations and statistical data about how gambling change during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Unlike the international context, there are not neither scientific articles nor official data about the development of gambling behaviour during the lockdown in Italy yet, except for a research conducted by CNR’s Institute of Clinical Physiology. Findings show just a little portion of onsite gamblers moved to online gambling offer. However, unofficial data about gambling consumption show opposite results, i.e. it occurred a significant onsite gambling reduction in favour of an increase of online activity. Furthermore, since June data show a growth in gambling behaviour, thus, together with online values, gambling consumption does not seem to be reduced in the first quarter of 2020.
In conclusion, limited official data show gambling is a complex and widespread phenomenon embedded in Italy, which hasn’t suffered a significant decrease despite all the changes occurred. Moreover, the pandemic highlighted the importance of online gambling, which needs to be more considered from public health policies.