The economist Bruni against slot machines

«I abstain from Coffee»

By Marta Todeschini

Published in L'Eco di Bergamo.it on June 02, 2013

Slot machine«We have to protest and do it well: gambling is the scandal of our third millennium." Luigino Bruni  is not a man to talk quietly. He makes it clear that "today those who loves the poor must also fight the addiction to gambling, such as slot machines," bringing up memories strikes and sit-ins. Have you walked into a bar for a coffee and seen the machines? One leaves, but not without protest.

Bruni, professor of Economics at the University Lumsa of Rome, has done so for some time. He has also happened to interrupt a conference: "I ​​was invited to a circle Acli. Down the hall I noticed the slot machines: the only thing I could talk about was my outrage."

Professor Bruni, why does an economist deal with slot machines and such things?

"I think those who are economists should take care of people and be social observers. I am especially committed to the cooperative, social sphere and Economy of Communion (Bruni is the coordinator of the International Commission of Economy of Communion, alternative model of ethical economy born in the nineties within the Focolare Movement, founded by Chiara Lubich, ed.). Today, one very serious form of poverty comes from the addiction to gambling. I am also interested in gambling as a citizen. I have such disdain for this age-old problem that has once again become an epidemic, a social sin, a mechanism to raise cash for the state. So, I see there is civil and intellectual responsibility in creating this gambling problem."

Do you feel support for your viewpoint, or are you a lone voice crying in the desert?

I am writing for Avvenire which, like you, has been campaigning strongly against gambling. But, talking about institutions, I have been saddened to realize how the current government, which should have had a special sensitivity regarding issues that are clearly wrong, has not done much in reality. I do not see many hopeful signs. "

On what issue should the legislature intervene first?

"The most grave issue is the proliferation of game rooms and VLTs, which are inhumane places. Let us ask ourselves: who gives them permits? It is well established that organized crime is often behind all this, recycling and laundering money. The law and public authorities can do a lot: they can simply stop granting these licenses. "
Instead, municipalities and police stations, questioned by committees of citizens who oppose the opening of new game halls, say they have their hands tied.
"There is much work to be done in terms of public opinion. We have to do much more, such as hold strikes." Like your coffee abstention in certain bars? "No, I don’t have my coffee in such bars with slot machines, but I speak, I talk and protest. This is important: if I explain my reasons publicly, I bring greater attention to the issue, this is important behavior. This is what I call strategic altruism, the potential for reproach at one's own expense."

Do you always come out unscathed?

"No, it does not always go well. Sometimes they get angry, but it is fine. When I go to buy a newspaper and I see the stacks of scratch card games that almost prevent one from seeing the newspaperman, I tell them that I am not going to buy the newspaper, and I am ashamed that there are places like this. Once, I went to a service area off the Florence-Rome highway, and the cashier asked me if I wanted a scratchcard. "Please, do not ask me these questions. I wanted a cappuccino," I replied. Three months later, I went there again, and the cashier recognized me: "You are the gentleman from last time." This means that a civil reproach, in a personal way, not made by a policeman, from a citizen who has nothing to gain, done for the common good, affects people in such way that they remember it. The bottom line is that culture can be changed in this way."

You believe the culture of communion should be the forfront of our culture.

"The culture of communion is the opposite of the culture of selfishness, which is important today in an era lacking social ties. There are some behaviors that are obviously wrong and should not be regulated: they must simply be eliminated. We would not say that we regulate murder or theft. A civilization simply says no to these things."

A spokesperson for Italy’s Game System announced just the other day that their aim should be to the offer gambling in identifiable and recognizable places.

"This is like saying: let’s close the brothels for prostitutes. I believe that civilization has the right to say: we do not want people going off to gamble. Will there be the illegal gambling? Fine, fight it. Words aren't enough; since it is there, it should be regulated. Gambling creates poverty, and it must be eliminated. There is also another level we need to work on. "

Which one?

"In addition to the legal level, there is also the level of the owners of bars and clubs. On the one hand, we must protest and request removal of the slot machines. Those who take them out should be rewarded by civil society with ethical branding."

Like the window sticker that our newspaper created, which many are proud of?

"We need to take actions like this one, creating civil rewards. Sometimes I also think of rewards such as monetary prizes, forms of compensation with money recovered from the mafia for those who decide to remove the machines. If we do not want to give money, there should beat least a reward of tax incentives. A lot can be accomplished if the political and civil spheres disapprove and apply pressure."

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