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Italy's tourism minister proposes more casinos to boost tourism

Oct 22, 2009

MILAN - Italy could get an extra 10-15 luxury casinos if Tourism Minister Vittoria Brambilla's plans go ahead, her spokeswoman said on Thursday.

The casinos, which would be in five-star hotels, are part of a 19-point plan by Brambilla to boost tourism in Italy, especially in the less-developed and crime-hit south, she said.

The plan still needs full government approval.

"The aim is to develop (the sector) and put the south in the same condition as the north, where there are already four casinos. The minister supports a policy of tourism to reactivate the south," the spokeswoman said.

"The idea is to put casinos in five-star hotels. But the text of the proposal is still under examination," she said, adding the plan was unlikely to be finalised at Friday's cabinet meeting.

The plan includes reopening casinos formerly operated in the Sicilian city of Taormina and in San Pellegrino Terme near the northern city of Bergamo, she said.

In the north of Italy there are municipal-controlled casinos in Venice, at San Remo, near the French border, at Campione near Como at the Swiss border, and in San Vincent in the Val D'Aosta region.

On Wednesday, the Agipro news agency which specialises on gaming, said the five-star hotels hosting casinos would have to be approved by local municipalities.

One of Italy's largest hotel chains, Alpitour (EXOR.MI), is not currently planning to open casinos at its five-star hotels, an Alpitour spokeswoman said.

"We have a different philosophy," she said.

Alpitour, which is owned by the Agnelli family holding company Exor, recently opened a hotel in a converted convent in Rome.

In the first nine months, casino bets in Itay were 347 million euros, with Venice the busiest of the four, with 126 million euros, Agipro said earlier this month.

Italy's tourism minister proposes more casinos to boost tourism
Tourism Minister Vittoria Brambilla / Image via

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