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Italy – Casino di Campione gets all-clear for reopening by end of the year

By - 24 June 2021

Having been closed for three years, Casino di Campione, the economic heartbeat of Campione d’Italia, has been given the all-clear to reopen on the shores of Lake Lugano by the end of the year.

The green light follows a decision by the bankruptcy court of Como to approve a financial plan by the property’s management company, which hinges on a host of changes to how the operation is run.

Judges Ambrogio Ceron, Marco Mancini and Annamaria Gigli ruled positively on June 15 in their assessment of the project prepared for the Società del Casinò, led by Marco Ambrosini, the casino’s sole administrator.

The rebirth of Casino di Campione will see a ‘radical strategy’ with ‘governance and management discontinuity with respect to the past’ where a ‘renewed relationship with the Municipality shareholder assumes a central role’ based on ‘balance and mutual sustainability.’

The reopening will see 174 employees reinstated with this to rise to 280 positions of employment over the next five years. This is a hugely significant reduction in the workforce and the cost of labour. The casino, in the tiny enclave of just 2,000 people, employed almost 500 people when it closed in 2018 due to bankruptcy. The total outlay on salaries will fall from € 50m when the casino closed to less than € 11m when it reopens, reaching a maximum of € 17m after five years.

Taxation levels have been set significantly lower than in the past whilst the casino has promised a cost saving program on restaurants and catering with external suppliers being signed up on a fixed budget to avoid unexpected costs.

In a webinar hosted by Gioconews.it . Mr Ambrosini said: “The pandemic has put the gambling world on standby due to the lockdowns that have hit various parts of the world where casinos are located. We were in lockdown for other reasons but for many months we were all the same position and now we can start again.

“The analogy I like is with ski resorts, when all the locations reopen, enthusiasts will go everywhere and to those they previously preferred,” he added. “This is why I am convinced that Campione will be able to make a great start again because once it reopens it will rediscover all the extraordinary potential and attractiveness it has always had and which will come back as strengths.”

Paolo Bortoluzzi, Campione d’Italia’s councillor for infrastructure said: “There’s a lot of enthusiasm in the town. Finally, we’re emerging from a really difficult period. We need to finalise a few things, but hope to reopen the casino as soon as possible. The whole town and its identity revolved around the casino, people grew up with it. It was like an earthquake when everything collapsed.”

The town’s Mayor Roberto Canesi said: “The citizens of Campione can finally look to the future with optimism, leaving behind these dramatic past three years characterised by the long closure of the principle source of support for the local economy.”

There is much to blame the casino’s historic downfall on. In 2007, it moved to huge new premises, designed by the Swiss architect Mario Botta, which took the venue’s 7,000 sq. m. premises up to 55,000 sq. m. spread over nine floors and the workforce up to 500.

That gamble then faced a series of economic hurdles including the financial crisis of 2008, the fall of the euro against the Swiss franc, the opening of new gaming floors in nearby Lugano and Medrisio, new legal requirements for anti-money laundering laws and the liberalisation of gambling in Italy with an explosion of VLT locations. The casino racked up debts of € 130m and with revenues declining, expenses spiralling and competition mounting, the bankruptcy declared in June 2018 came as no surprise. The casino’s owners though had been close to finalising a debt restructuring agreement with its creditors, but the business was declared bankrupt by the extraordinary commissioner of the Municipality of Campione.

So to the rebirth; in the first year, GGR is expected to reach € 41m with annual revenue reaching up to € 80m a year in the fifth year of the plan.
No repayments on the debt owed to the municipality will be made over the next five years unless revenues outpace the financial forecasts, and only after full repayment has been made to unsecured creditors.

Stefano Zane, CEO of the company behind the financial plan, said: “The plan has a five-year duration and is based on a radical strategic, governance and management discontinuity with respect to the past. A casino, by definition, cannot lose if managed with professionalism and attention.”

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