Maltese Government in Legal Battle Over Casino Di Venezia
The Maltese government has commenced a court action to repossess three lots in Birgu, one of which used to be the home of the Casino di Venezia.
The government issued a statement saying that it was taking Vittoriosa Gaming Ltd, Port Cottonera Hotel Development Ltd, and Galleys Development Ltd to court. All three businesses have been ordered to settle unpaid debts and to hand the three lots back to the government.
Malta's Land Commissioner gave Port Cottonera Ltd a number of buildings in Birgu on a 99-year lease. The company undertook to pay the government €582,343 a year with a four-year rebate. The agreement also provided for 15% rent rise every decade. The government had the option to end the deal if the company left its lease unpaid for more than two months.
In April 2001 sections of the company's site were sublet to Galleys Development, Scamps Developments Ltd, and Port Cottonera Hotel Development. In October of the next year, Port Cottonera sold the rights to some sections of the site to Galleys Development, including the part which held Casino di Venezia.
Once that sale had gone through, the three companies that were subletting undertook to pay MTL175,000 in ground rent, with Port Cottonera taking responsibility for the balance of MTL75,000. Scamps Development sold its rights to Vittoriosa Gaming in June 2011. The government statement claimed that no payments for any part of the site had been received for two months. The company concerned were warned by letter by the Commissioner of Land that the rents were due. The court action demands that the rent arrears must be paid and the land returned to the government.
The Parliamentary Secretary for Competitiveness and Economic Growth, José Herrera, said the government would regenerate the properties when they returned for the benefit of the tourist industry in Malta.
Casino di Venezia shut down in 2013, apparently in breach of the terms of its gaming license. When it was open, the facility provided 49 slot machines and 14 table games, including French Roulette, standard roulette, and blackjack.