While most businesses are feeling the pinch, one area seemingly bucking the grim economic trend is the gambling industry.
In Italy people spent nearly 80 billion euros on sports betting and gambling in 2011, triple that of seven years ago.
With the liberalisation of the market and the increasing availability of slot and video poker machines in cafes, online gambling is drawing in more younger fans than ever.
In a mock casino in Trento, mathematician Paolo Canova is helping educate youngsters about gambling.
He said: “In Italy gambling is forbidden for people under 18. So, in theory we would expect to meet people who do not know how to gamble. But, what happens? Young people know these games very well and when we talk about slot machines or ‘win for life’ lottery or poker, we realise that they know more than us”.
Through science, statistics and probability Canova is trying to explain that the vast majority of people will lose money when they gamble, not win. He uses a popular Italian lottery as an example.
“What are your odds of winning if you have six numbers (what’s the probability) that these six numbers are the ones that will be drawn on the SuperEnalotto tonight and they will be the six winning numbers? There’s one chance in 622,614,630. So it is much more likely that the Earth will be destroyed by an asteroid in 2036 than your six numbers winning SuperEnalotto lottery,” he said.
Canova and physicist Diego Rizzuto will leave Trento soon – they are off to another Italian region to speak in more than 50 schools on the next stop of their campaign.