Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Casino di Venezia Sold to an Internet Gambling Company

I just read that Sportalnet, an online “betting” company has purchased Venice’s casino and its trademark, “Casinò di Venezia.” Here’s the article, which can be found on www.casinos.ch/newsflashartikel.cfm?art=news&key=13023. (Note that this article says “Venice is one of the most clicked words on the internet.”)

Sportalnet, a Maltese registered on-line betting company, will be the new owners of the Casinò di Venezia. Sportalnet is effectively owned by International Trust, a company whose shareholders include former Nationalist MP George Hyzler, Rodney Lee Berger and lawyer Simon Tortell.

Tortell is already a shareholder in the Vittoriosa Gamings which holds the concession to operate the Casinò di Venezia. Until now the only other shareholer in this company was the municipality of Venice. Despite the sale of shares, the concession will remain in the hands of Vittoriosa Gamings as the sale will only involve a transfer of shares from the Venetians to Sportalnet.

Sportalnet will be paying US$ 7.8 million to buy 60 per cent of the Vittoriosa Gaming in the next two years. It will be buying the remaining 40 per cent in the next ten years. Meanwhile, the Venice local council has also reached an agreement with the Maltese group De Rohan Investments on the building of the hotel next to the casino.

Debono was formely one of the directors of the Port Cottonera, a consortium of
entrepreneurs who were responsible for the renovation of Scamps Palace back in 2001. In return for taking up this obligation, the municipality of Venice has committed itself to guarantee a supply of clients for the new hotel equivalent to $590,000US a year for the next ten years.

Sportalnet will not only be buying the historical Scamps Palace but also the
trademark “Casinò di Venezia” which will be used to lure more people into betting their money on line. The word "Venice" is one of the most clicked words on the internet. According to reports in the Italian media, the use of this trademark for on-line gambling is the main attraction for the new aquirants.

Malta's liberal laws which permit online gambling have created a budding sector which has become even more lucrative than actual physical casinos. Online gambling is only permitted in a few European countries like Malta and the UK and is still banned in countries like Italy. This has lured a number of Italian companies to operate from Malta.

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