Closure of Europe’s oldest casino  leaves Italy’s historic Como exclave in crisis

Closure of Europe's oldest casino  leaves Italy's historic Como exclave in crisis

The Como court ordered the casino closed while prosecutors investigate financial mismanagement. But Campione residents fear if the state doesn’t step in soon, their paradise nestled below the Swiss Alps risks becoming a città fantasma, a ghost town haunted by the giant shuttered casino in its midst.

The schadenfreude is palpable, says the former head of the casino’s food and beverage unit and casino workers’ union leader, Mirko Chirico. 

“Campione always was envied as an enclave of wealth and privilege, so now in this grave moment for so many families, instead of getting help, we’re getting insults,” said Mr. Chirico, 53, reached by telephone.

“Everybody made mistakes — the politicians, the management, the municipality. But the paradox is that in the factory of errors, the only ones who are paying the price are the not guilty ones – but the workers.”

Nearly 500 laid off workers haven’t received salaries or benefits since July. Another 150 workers in the distribution chain in surrounding Swiss villages are also without work.

Those living in Switzerland have access to Swiss unemployment and other state help, but those in Campione city limits, which is legally Italy, have struggled to make ends meet. Some have sought psychiatric help in Milan, said Mr. Chirico.  

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