Italy’s once-fabled Casino di Campione could become a medical clinic after its ignominious descent into bankruptcy.
The casino, which resides on the shores of Lake Lugano within the municipality of Campione d’Italia – part of the Italian province of Como despite being surrounded by land belonging to Switzerland – was forced into bankruptcy in July after liquidators rejected plans to restructure its €132m debt.
The casino was 100% owned by the municipality, which sought an ever higher cut of gaming revenue, putting a strain on the operation’s finances. Prosecutors also alleged that the casino’s management company engaged in a range of financial impropriety over the years that contributed to the property’s red ink.
With its cash cow shuttered, and its nearly 500 staff – out of a total population of only 2,000 – out of work, the municipality is now in its own dire financial straits.
Earlier this month, 86 of the municipality’s 102 civic employees were made redundant and Monday saw four municipal councilors announce their “irrevocable and immediate resignation from office.” Their stated intention was to dissolve the city council and bring about the appointment of a prefectural commissioner who could re-open the casino.
In the meantime, the casino’s idle employees have staged an ongoing protest outside the casino, and Thursday will see them throw a ‘grand gala’ at which former croupiers will prepare the food and to which casino customers have been invited. On Friday, the municipality will file its complaint with the Milan Court of Appeal against the bankruptcy order.
Italian media reported that a group of Swiss investors had inquired about acquiring the shuttered casino and transforming it into a medical clinic and residential complex. However, other investors – some of whom still see a future for gaming operations on the property – have also been sniffing around, so only time will tell.