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November 2015
Italian Casinos: who says they are in trouble? 
by Dario De Toffoli

Other talks for the "Venezia Cambia" group
- March 2015 
The bad administrtaion of the Venetian Casino
- July 2015 
Casino: the bills don't add up... let's hope barons don't return

I read on the newspaper Corriere della Sera (October 22) an article by Sergio Rizzo about Italian Casinos. It talks about how they are close to failure and about the project of opening 4 new ones.

I am puzzled, I must have seen a different movie.

This has unfortunately become a common belief: the Italian casinos are supposed to have a hard time and their cities would have to deal with their losses. The newspapers amplify this wrong information, especially here in Venice for the Casino of the City. I can't talk about SanremoSaint Vincent and Campione, because I don't have enough information. As for Venice yes I can, and the story is very different from what they tell us! Here below some detailed informations that I put together with the association Venezia Cambia.

On March 2nd 2015, the City of Venice gave out the balance sheet of the Casino.

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It is clear that, during about ten years, the incomes decreased from 100 millions in 2004 to 16 millions in 2014. But it is still having income!

More about it:

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So, in 2014 16 millions are left. Not much, but it is still something. If this is the situation, why is there a loss of 6 millions just 3 months later?
Well, there is an agreement: the entire income goes to the City of Venice, who gives back 
75% of it to the Casino, keeping 25%. No matter what the income is: 75% and 25%.

Now, in 2004, from the income of 100 millions, the City of Venice kept 25 millions. In 2014 the income was 16 millions and the city would have to deal with it. Who guarantees for the losses if not the very same City who is its owner? So why this whole operation? So the City has an agreement with itself (since the Casino is its property) and then it intervenes when things go wrong? Should I start to talk about the many real estate magic tricks prepared throughout many years, or better about the companies made like chines boxes, where the City of Venice uses them like a cash machine, filling them up with unsustainable debts? What does this have to do with a company? This is simply the terrible inadequacy of the Venetian Policy!

And what should I say about the management? When there was "a lot to eat", the city was collecting more than 100 millions every year, and all the rest was secondary: the bad management with the clients, nepotism, inefficiency, the excessive costs including the staff salary (at all levels). Everybody was having "his piece of cake". Now, in ten years, incomes are much lower (from 200 to 100 milions), while costs stayed the same. So percentages of income and expenses have changed a lot. If until 2011 the costs were 40% of the incomes, after 2012 they raised up to 75%. This means that the Casino is spending 3/4 of what it earns for its (bad) management and administration; adding taxes and previdential costs you end up with those 16 millions.

Of course the first accomplice is the whole Italian system, who permitted the spreading of the gaming machines outside the Casinos (the amount of slot machines in Italy is a worldwide record!), but a big part of this problem has also been the very bad administration, in which people would be guaranteed to get certain positions as an exchange of favours for their vote (our former Mayor Orsoni, yes the same one of the Mose scandal, he was a specialist in these "exchanges").

Lets get this clear. I am not against Casinos, they could even be useful to prevent problem gambling. Imagine: no more slot machines in bars nor in other places,  except for the Casinos, where there would be clear rules and a very strict controls, finding a balance between economics and ethics. But it's just a dream.