Simone Sarti, Moris Triventi

Gambling: the Iniquity of a Voluntary Tax. The relationship between socio-economic position and propensity of gambling

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Keywords: JEL Classification: D63 - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other; D12 - Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis; H23 - Externalities; Redistributive Effects.

Italian sociology has largely overlooked gambling, even if it is a widespread phenomenon with important socio-economic redistributive consequences. In this paper, we aim to fill this gap exploring the relationship between socio-economic position and propensity to gamble among Italian households in the last decade. In the first part, we describe the main features of legal gambling in Italy and its importance for the State's revenues. In the second part, we review the main research findings from other countries, we discuss the main theories about social stratification of gambling and elaborate our research hypotheses. In the last part, we analyse data from three waves of the Istat's survey on Consumption of Italian Households (1999, 2003, 2008), focusing on participation and monthly expenditure in «Lotto, lotteries and soccer gambling». Results of non-parametric (Lorentz curves, Suits index) and parametric analyses (probit and OLS regression) indicate that gambling in Italy can be considered as a form of (voluntary) regressive taxation, because the less affluent households spend on gambling a higher proportion of their income than richer families. Furthermore, the effect of income on gambling expenditure is larger among the lower educated families. At the end, there is evidence of a higher propensity to gamble among households of the working class, with fewer women and elderly, and from the South of Italy.

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