Amid cri­sis, gam­bling rises in venezuela

The Sunday Guardian - - The Week -

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.

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