Casinos in Switzerland are struggling and the struggling economy in neighboring Italy is being given much of the blame/credit. Swiss casino revenue fell 8% to 757m francs (US $800m) in 2012, but the dropoff was more pronounced in casinos bordering Italy versus those bordering France or Germany. Bloomberg reported that the Mendrisio casino five minutes from the Italian border saw revenue fall 12% last year while the casino in Lugano – where 80% of the gamblers are Italian – saw revenue fall 21%, the highest drop of any Swiss gaming joint. The increasing strength of the Swiss franc relative to the Euro is also eating into the cross-border casino business.
It’s not that Italians aren’t eager to gamble. Police in Potenza, Italy recently broke up an illegal gambling ring in an operation appropriately dubbed ‘game over.’ In addition to being unlicensed, the ring’s slot machines and computers offering video poker were demonstrably unfair. According to Gazzetta del Sud, police wiretaps revealed one of the ring’s organizers bragging that the machines had been rigged so that punters had but one chance in 7,000 of winning money. The illicit operation, which had servers based in Eastern Europe and Florida, allegedly earned the network’s manager up to €150k per day. Police claimed some of the ring’s unlucky punters/victims had lost “up to €1m” apiece.
It’s not known how those slot players who were cheated out of €1m reacted to the news that they’d been scammed, but if the axe-wielding Italian punter in the video below is any indication, it would be wise to keep them away from sharp objects and/or blunt instruments.