Amid crisis, gambling rises in venezuela
CARCASAS: Players line up beside a small kiosk in a poor neighbourhood to choose animals in a lottery game that has become a craze in Venezuela even as the oil-rich country suffers a fourth year of brutal recession. It seems more and more Venezuelans are turning to gambling in their desperation to make ends meet amid the country’s unprecedented economic crisis.Though more people lose than win overall, the illusion of a payday has become more alluring as Venezuelans endure the world’s highest inflation, shortages of basics from flour to car batteries, and diminished real-term wages. Among multiple options from race courses to back-street betting parlors, the roulette-style “Los Animalitos” (or the Little Animals) is currently by far the most popular game on the street. “Most people I see playing the lottery are unemployed, trying to make a bit extra this way because the payouts are good,” said Veruska Torres, 26, a nurse who recently lost her job in a pharmacy and now plays Animalitos every day. A mixture of private companies and local regional authorities behind the gambling business said trade was booming, with lines longer and busier than ever—because of, not despite, the hard times.