Campione d’italia: one year after the bankruptcy of Europe’s largest Casino

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In Campione d’italia was once Europe’s largest Casino. The casino has been bankrupt since last year. Since then, the Italian exclave Campione d’italia in southern Switzerland has made a lot of debts. Reason: The Casino was the only source of income for the municipality.

Campione d’italia is located in southern Switzerland on lake Lugano. It is an Italian territory on Swiss soil. The 2,000-person village is become by gambling famous and rich. The loss of the casino threatens the existence of the community. The mountain of debt is 175 million Swiss francs (approximately 157 million euros) for the Casino and the municipality has, once again, to 140 million Swiss francs (around € 125.5 million euros) liabilities due to the lack of revenue. In January 2018 it became known that Europe’s largest Casino is insolvent.

Although most residents still struggle to preserve their village, the future is uncertain. The hope of the past has been shattered over and over again. 482 Casino employees were dismissed, a mayor no longer exists and most city employees perform their services without payment. After more than a year, the situation in Campione d’italia has intensified.

Campione d’italia is an Italian town, but is located in Swiss customs territory. Swiss francs are used as means of payment, the cars carry license plates from Switzerland, the phones use Swiss providers and Swiss insurance companies help with damage.

The current situation in Campione d’italia

Campione d’italia Casino from the water “SOS-Campione is DEAD” you can still read in big letters in front of the Casino. A white plastic tent serves as a base for protesters and former Casino employees. There they meet, Cook and try to explain to tourists their problems. Some of the employees have worked for 13 to 30 years at the Casino. The last wage they paid on 27. July 2018. Many of the former 482 employees blame the management of the casino for their misery.

The Casino has been bankrupt for almost a year. The municipality was the sole owner. The poor Casino also made sure that the community fell into the abyss. In the proud times around 700,000 Swiss francs (627,000 Euros) came into the municipal treasury every 10 days. The Casino was considered a safe employer.

Today, 800 inhabitants are unemployed in the municipality. The municipality’s 85 employees no longer receive wages,but continue to work. A total of 315 million debts (282 million euros) have Casino and community. The Kindergarten, the retirement home and the tourist office had to close. The school is still open, but in the Winter you only heated the most important rooms.

Solutions run in the Sand

Among the employees, one is sure that the community has to get away from the casino in the long term. As the sole source of income, business is too uncertain. Nevertheless, you need the Casino at short notice, so that you can rethink. Therefore, the employees want the game to resume, better today than tomorrow.

Bankruptcy proceedings are prolonged. Under Italian law, the municipality may no longer be part-holders of the casino for 5 years. Furthermore, only public authorities may take over the Casino. In the past, the provincial government of Como or the Ministry of Interior in Rome were repeatedly talking as investors. Thanks to the media, even more names ghost – but all rescue operations need a lot of time – time that is slowly running out in Campione d’italia.

With every week without a solution, the debt increases. The Swiss Canton of Ticino and the city of Lugano are currently donors. They supply electricity, water, Gas and dispose of the waste. However, the municipality cannot pay the bills. In September 2018, the debt there already amounted to 5 million Swiss francs (4.5 million euros). Overall, the neighbours in Switzerland still show solidarity, but it is uncertain how long the aid will last. The federal Department of foreign affairs in Bern States the Situation:

The Swiss and Italian authorities are in regular contact with the municipality of Campione d’italia in order to pay the outstanding payments.

What led to the Bankruptcy of the largest European Casinos?
In 1990, the largest casino in Europe was planned in its present Form. The Ticino architect Mario Botta had built a Casino of 10 floors and 190 million francs. It should become the largest casino at all, because the more customers, the more turnover.

At that time, it was not possible to know that at some point Online Casinos rank the casinos. The Italian laws would allow money players in pubs, so that gambling tourism partly fails, was also not foreseeable. The emergence of gambling banks in Switzerland and Casinos in direct vicinity in the cities of Mendrisio, Lugano and Locarno could not be expected. This would fall from CHF 1.60 to CHF 1.10, had not been taken into account. Most recently, the community became quite wasteful by the many good years. The sum of reasons ultimately led to the bankruptcy of the casino and the community.

The situation of the residents becomes more precarious

Some staff had worked for 30 years or more as a technician, Croupier, waiter or service staff at the Casino. They say that despair is growing. The belief in media, politics and Justice has now been lost.

Some former employees live in Switzerland. You’re fine. You receive unemployment benefit from the Swiss social security system. Although this is paid only temporarily limited, the fears of existence are only postponed by 6 months in some cases. The worst are probably the pensioners affected. They received a basic pension of 800 euros from the Italian state and 1,400 euros pension benefit from the municipality, which now disappears. Eviction orders from insolvent tenants are now part of everyday life.

The trade unionist Paolo Bortoluzzi has worked at the Casino for almost 20 years. He describes the location of the municipality and the Swiss price level as follows:

It is a matter of Mathematics: at present we need our savings on. Soon the loan rate for the apartment will be due. If the Bank does not meet us again, the apartment is foreclosed.

Food is distributed in the centre of the village. Parishes and the Swiss food-fundraiser “Tischlein deck dich” are very active and try to help the people. proDie donations come mostly from Swiss neighbors: a baker donates bread, an oil supplier provides free heating oil.

What is the future for Campione d’italia?

From 1. Campione d’italia is scheduled to be part of the European customs territory from 1 January 2020. This was decided by the Council of the European Union at the request of Italy. It will be established an Italian-Swiss customs station. The inhabitants are currently wondering who will provide the telephone connection in the future, who will deliver the Post, whether the emergency care is still guaranteed by Switzerland and how the waste is disposed of.

A Petition had been launched against Italy’s decision. 1,600 inhabitants had signed. So far, there are no solutions or opinions from Rome.

Vincenzo Falanga works as secretary general of the UIL Union in Como. He has been trying to win over the community workers of Campione d’italia for a year. Many meetings were held and violations were sent to the Ministry of Interior in Rome. So far there are no answers. Plans for the future of the Italian exclave are missing, so at least the opinion of Falanga:

There is no crisis summit, no round table, no programme of work. This is what is so demotivating, so infinitely disappointing.

He does not see solutions for Campione d’italia until 2021. This is too late for most residents. You’ll have to leave the place before. Although he hopes for an earlier solution and a new concept for the place, this hope is not likely. The problems in Italy are probably too great for this.

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