On the cusp of turning 40, Dan has been living with addiction for half his life. Yet his eyes behind thin-rimmed glasses are not bloodshot; his arms are not punctured or bruised by needles. Under a fine Bucharest drizzle, he heads for a gambling hall, convinced he has lost almost everything. “People believe that all humans are fit to survive,” said Dan, a pseudonym to protect his identity. “But nature is not like that.”
Gambling venues have become ubiquitous across Romania since the first big betting hall opened its doors in Bucharest’s central train station in the spring of 1990, just months after Nicolae CeauÅŸescu’s communist rule ended in popular revolt and a Christmas Day firing squad.
In May 2015, the Romanian parliament approved a law on gambling that included measures designed to tackle the scourge of addiction. But more than a year later, there are reasons to doubt their effectiveness.