Oldest Casino in Italy Still Looking for New Management

Posted on: May 3, 2014, 05:30h. 

Last updated on: August 25, 2015, 07:40h.

Casino di Venezia
The Casino di Venezia in Venice, Italy has been in operation for nearly 400 years. (Image: Casinos Europe)

There are casinos built in just the last few years that are visited because they’re trendy, slick and filled to the brim with modern amenities. Then there are those venues that are still surviving on reputations made decades ago, perhaps with modest renovations over the years to keep them fresh.

Then there are the casinos that are truly old.

Venice’s Casinò Di Venezia certainly fits into that final category. Established in 1638, the casino is believed to be the oldest gaming establishment in the world today, having offered gaming for nearly 400 years to visitors from across Europe and all corners of the world.

But despite that grand history, it appears that the Casinò Di Venezia may be in some trouble. The current operators are looking for a new owner to take over, and are struggling to find interested buyers.

No Investors at Current Price

Venice’s city council has run the casino since 1946. But a public tender was recently called in the hope of receiving offers to take over the gambling hall. Unfortunately for the council, they didn’t have any interested parties come forward.

According to reports, the 30-year deal that the city council had in mind would have required a buyer to invest about €500 million ($690 million) over that period.

“Before the tender started, some said that we were about to give the casino away for a too low price,” said Venice mayor Giorgio Orsoni. “Truth is, we all have to realize that we instead asked for a too high price.”

A purchase would have required a down payment of around €140 million ($193 million) to gain control of the casino’s two locations – the historic Ca’ Vendramin Calergi near the historic center of the city on the Grand Canal, as well as Ca’ Noghera, near the Marco Polo Airport – as well as an additional investment of at least €308 million ($425 million) over the 30 years of the contract.

In addition, there would also be an annual gambling tax of €16 million ($22 million) due from the owners. Starting in the seventh year of the contract, there would also be an additional tax of 5 percent or more on all gross gaming revenues that exceeded €140 million.

Apparently, these costs were enough to scare away any potential investors, at least at that price.

Slovenian Group May Have Interest

According to reports, one potential investment group is Casino Hit, a Slovenian gambling firm that has expressed interest in the media.

“We are open to start a roundtable with Venice city council and the current management of the casino,” the group wrote in a note distributed to media outlets.

However, Casino Hit also noted worries over the costs of taking over the casino.

“The Group has put together a pool of investors, and some of them expressed concerns about the financial sustainability of the investment asked so far, as they consider it to be too high for the current dynamics of international gambling markets,” they wrote.

Despite the setbacks, though, Mayor Orsoni still sounds confident that the city will find a way to move the world’s oldest casino to new management.

“The game is not over yet, and I am confident that we will find a solution for the casino,” Orsoni said.