türkçe links to original Turkish article
(HaberTürk Newspaper, 25 October 2015)
"Mussolini and the Casino"
Italian historian and philosopher Riccardo Mandelli has written
a book entitled "Al Casino con Mussolini" (Mussolini and the
Casino). The Mafia was at the head of the project and they got
support from Benito Mussolini, who became Prime Minister of
Italy in 1922. The Mafia's first casino was in San Remo and it
continues in operation today.
Businessman Giuseppe Volpi and the Commerciale Italiana Bank,
which held a large portion of Ottoman debt, got together with
Masons from Salonika, Greece, and after the death of the last
Ottoman Sultan Vahideddin in May 1926 they decided to go forward
with the project.
Yıldız Palace, on the left.
Within a short period of time, the casino group obtained permission
to operate from the young Turkish Republican government and they
turned the Yıldız Palace in Istanbul, which had been the home and
office of the Sultan for many years, into a casino. The opening
occurred on 26 September 1926.
The manager, Mario Serra, was eager to open up a dance hall,
tennis courts, a horse riding area and a golf club on the grounds
of Yıldız Palace and he even wanted to turn the nearby but ruined
Cirağan Palace into a hotel.
Check your wallet at the door.
Turks were forbidden from entering the casino but this was
generally ignored and Istanbul society was losing fortunes each
evening at the roulette tables. Trainloads of casino patrons from
the Balkans added to Serra's income, reaching 1 million lira per
However, in September 1927 an incident occurred that ruined
Serra's dreams and the Yıldız Casino. A Turkish army officer
was denied permission to enter the casino. Shamed, the officer
committed suicide by shooting himself in the head. Ankara, the
new Republic's capital, got word of the incident and closed the
Conquerer of Ethiopia and Mafia casino-backer Mussolini.
Serra sued Turkey but lost and there were also two warrants for
his arrest in Italy at the time. Serra fled Istanbul and was caught
trying to enter Italy with a false identity.
For those wanting to learn more about the Yıldız Casino there are
plenty of related documents to be found in the Prime Minister's
Yıldız Palace in Istanbul, at the blue dot.