Project description

The “Italia of the slot 2” is a sequel of a multifaceted inquiry which allowed, in last yast year, to focus on the increasing problem of slot machine addiction. Compared to the last work, this year we decided to widen our perspectives focusing not only on the slot machine but on the whole of the “gambling habits” of Italians. So this year (for the first time in Italy) we included in our analysys games like lotteries, Scratches and win, Bingo, sports and horses betting and very typical games in Italy such as Lotto and SuperEnalotto. The aim is to have a framework of the gambling habits of italians and to give data and tips to investigate the problem of “gambling addiction” a disease not only related with slot machine, but which often starts by a wider range of games.

Like the previous year we collaborate with DataNinja wich got the data of “Agenzia delle Dogane e dei Monopoli” (The National gaming regulatory Agency) under a FOIA. The Data were about issues such as money italians spent for different games in 2018, trends of the number of slot machines in Italy and of the money earned by the gambling industry during the last three years and so on.

The Data obtained was verified and then transformed into a machine readable dataset, then it was used in three distinctive ways. Firstly extrapolation of specific areas were given to the local
newspapers in order to allow them to draw conclusions specific to their territory.

Secondly the dataset was imported into a db that could be interrogated on the web, this became L’talia delle Slot 2. Third, the recognition of trends and national ranks to better understand gambling habits and addiction.

The keyword is “Search-engine”: we create a friendly interface to allow anyone to interrogate our database inputing a name of a town.The search returns data concerning the amount of money spent by each inhabitant for the whole gambling and for different games, the money won in 2017 (and what are the games where people won more), which are the games the people play more on different areas or towns, the trend -spanning a three year time- with number and the money spent in slot machine.

A second method for interacting with the DB is to compare two towns. In this case data in terms of per capita expenditure, money spent for different games, trends of slot machine, total plays and national ranking is displayed for each municipality. It’s a sort of snap to better understand the situation of towns and cities in terms of “virtuousness” and gambling habits.

The analysis is then divided into sections dedicated to national rankings We create maps for every kind of game to show where people play it mostly.This is very important to have a global insight and to have tips for national reports, interviews and further investigation.

The user interface recall the word of poker and gambling with color like red, black and white.Iconographic references are used to display data such as: cards, slot machine, scratch and wins etc.

What makes this project innovative?

For the first time in Italy, thanks to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) our team - with the help of Dataninja - was able to gain access to information regarding all the main games played by italians. It is a useful service not only for all italian citizens, but also for institution beacuse they now can use an easy tool with certified data to write municipal regulations about slot machines and the other gambling games. “Italia delle slot” is now two years old, and it is growing, becoming a reference point also for a lot of small local titles. One of the main strengths of the Gedi's local newspapers is the ability to work together even miles away. With the coordination of the central editorial board of the Italian Association, the 13 local papers (from the Tirreno to the Messaggero Veneto, from the Province Pavese to the Gazzetta di Modena) each worked on a local investigation reporting on the regional and provincial level. The newsroom was given the data analysis with some observations and this gave them a starting point from which to begin their in-depth investigation into what the numbers were saying, specifically the gravity of gambling addiction addiction in their area. On launch day - many different articles and reports were published in print and online

What was the impact of your project? How did you measure it?

Data on the spread of different games in Italy and the amount of money spent on this activities had never been published before the release of “L’Italia delle slot 2". The attention, therefore, was immediately high. On the first day of launch about twenty other local newspapers had taken up the work with micro-local focuses and investigations. Inside Gedi Gruppo Editoriale for the first time we published an investigative reporting about this issue in 14 local newspapers (from Il Tirreno to Il Secolo XIX, from Messaggero Veneto to Gazzetta di Mantova), in Repubblica, both on the national title and on the local ones (like Repubblica Milano and Repubblica Bologna), in La Stampa and in their local editions. Numerous requests for data for use by universities and researchers arrived. And for the first time we work with students: we manage a project with “Università degli studenti della Tuscia” and its “Laurea Magistrale in Informazione digitale” to teach students how to work with a very big dataset, how to write an investigative reporting about their region, and how to visualize data.

Source and methodology

The data were obtained through a FOIA request to the Agenzia delle Dogane e dei Monopoli, the government entity that oversees the legal gambling sector in Italy. The successful request marked the first time that Municipality level data about the number of slot machines and the amount of money spent on gambling were released and made public. Before our request it was impossibile for citizens - but also for mayors and local politicians for that matter - to have a quantitatively reliable measure of gambling activities in a city or town, even if growing concerns about the impact of it were on the rise. Journalists involved in Italia delle Slot had been performed a similar request in 2013 but it was rejected. The manipulation and analysis of data required quite an amount of work. The data were handed to GEDI in 6 PDF documents composed by more than 18k pages, containing data about 90k locations and 400k slot machines. First we had to extract the data from the PDF with Tabula and custom Python scripts and convert them in a machine-readable format (CSV). Then we cleaned them using Openrefine and merged with data from Italian National Institute of Statistics using R statistical analysis tool. Every single step of the enrichment and merging process was encoded in a R script in order to minimize the chances of error and to eventually make the work reproducible by a third party.

Technologies Used

We stored data from a csv file on a mysql DB. A mysql database and php as a server side language. FE The layout is responsive with 3 main breakpoints: - up to 767px, - from 768 to 1024px, - over 1024px. We used Less as a CSS pre-processor. Management of the Interaction with the UI and the front-end is based on jQuery, in particular, with the help of jQuery we managed the UI for the autosuggest of the names of the municipalities. The data transfer from server to front-end is through the use of xhr method calls to a webservice written in php that returns a json with the related data. On the page of national analysys for different games, maps related to single games were realized using QGis. For the charts we used Chart JS framework. Optimization and minification of static assets was made using the Grunt task runner.

Project members

Project manager: Marianna Bruschi Data mining: Visual Lab, Dataninja ed Effecinque Data analysis and contents: Daniele Tempera Graphics and Design: Paola Cipriani Web developement: Daniele Testa, Alberto Dal Mas Data-Visualization: Eva Csuthi e Raffaele Aloia

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