Italian politician alleges ulterior motive to remove Casino di Venezia licence

An Italian MP has alleged that the revocation of the Casino di Venezia’s licence following wild celebrations marking Italy’s World Cup victory, could have been a ploy by the casino’s competitors to jeopardise the Vittoriosa house of gambling.

The allegation was made by Michele Zuin, a representative of Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia party, and a councillor for the town of Venice.

The accusation has been denied by the Lotteries and Gaming Authority chief executive Mario Galea.

The Venice local council still controls a 40 per cent stake in the Vittoriosa casino after selling 60 per cent of its shares to the Maltese-registered Bet Live Ltd.

Zuin expressed his doubts that the licence had been merely revoked due to the excesses of a feast held in the wake of Italy’s victory in the World Cup final in Berlin.

“Perhaps there is more than meets the eye. Perhaps the Venetians were never welcomed in Malta. Perhaps competitors are trying to take advantage of the situation. Perhaps the majority shareholder is trying to get rid of Favaretto – the managing director of the casino.”

The Venetian local council still has a right to choose the director general of the casino. In fact Armando Favaretto, who allegedly participated in the wild feasting that led to the revocation of the licence, still served in this role despite the sale of the casino to the Maltese betting company.

Mario Galea has denied the insinuations, insisting that the gaming authority was obliged to act because what happened in the casino was “intolerable”.

The authority had received reports from the police and following an investigation it was obliged “not to let the situation degenerate into chaos”, Galea told MaltaToday.

Galea is one of the few people who knows exactly what happened on the night, having seen a video recording the happenings. An Italian newspaper has compared the events to an inhibited “lupanara”, an ancient Roman feast characterised by orgies.

But Galea considers this comparison as an exaggeration. “Don’t let your fantasy run wild,” Galea told MaltaToday.

Majority shareholder Ferdinando Orlandi, who has also seen the video, gave a graphic description of events to the Gazzettino di Venezia. “The law forbids casino employees from getting drunk and engaging in any contacts with the clients. Yet the employees were drunk and even forced clients to stop playing.”

Orlandi also claimed that the video shows the casino’s director Armando Favaretto participating in the wild feast. “I could not believe me eyes.

It’s one thing celebrating and another thing behaving like a hooligan, walking around the halls soaked wet, drunk on beer and champagne and trying to touch the girls.”