How the ‘Las Vegas of Italy’ is kicking its slot machine addiction By Giorgio Ghiglione, The Guardian May 8, 2019 at 11:51 pm At the start of this year, Massimo was standing on a bridge “determined to jump off”. The 45-year-old had been struggling with gambling addiction since 2001. “I started to play slot machines and video poker after the death of my father and ended up spending €5,000 a day,” says the artisan fence-maker, from the city of Pavia in northern Italy. He was soon in debt to loan sharks and ended up stealing to fund his habit, including from his own mother, before considering suicide. Now Massimo (not his real name) lives in La Casa del Giovane, a unit that houses 100 patients suffering from addictions. Around half of the cases involve gambling – a symptom of an epidemic that has gripped Pavia for more than a decade.