Swiss Casinos struggling as they see Fewer Italian Gamblers

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In the past, Switzerland’s southern casino towns could rely on Italian gamblers for a big chunk of their gaming action. After all, the predominantly Catholic Italy had strict gambling laws in place for centuries. But due to their slumping economy, Italian government officials loosened up the gaming laws to allow for more casinos to be built.

This move has really hurt Swiss casino towns like Lugano, which is just an hour drive from the bustling Milan. Lugano has always been a fairly popular travel destination for Italians due to its beauty alone. However, palm trees and a sparkling lake are a distant second to Lugano’s casino in terms of drawing tourists.

But fewer and fewer Italians are coming to Casino Lugano since they can just stay closer to home now. “Last year people were spending less,” said the casino’s manager, Luca Antonini. “Now were beginning to see fewer guests too.”

The entire canton of Ticino, where Lugano is located, has seen casino revenue drop across the board. Besides a lack of tourists, Switzerland’s southernmost canton has also been hit hard by a decline in the Swiss franc. And despite recovery by much of Switzerland’s economy, Ticino’s casinos have still remained down.

What’s bad in all of this is that Italian gambling was up by 9.1% in 2012 and continues to rise in ’13. With thousands of slot machines now located around Milan and other northern Italian cities, this trend doesn’t look to stop any time soon.

In an effort to try and bring gamblers back, Casino Lugano is diversifying their offerings and advertising efforts. First off, they want to push their lakeside location to attract more people who are interested in the outdoors and water sports. Lugano’s casino is also trying to advertise their dancing and fine dining as well.

It’s tough to say if this will help reverse Lugano and the rest of Ticino casino’s fortunes. However, it seems to be a step in the right direction.

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