Charming as Andrea Compiano, Account Manager Casino & Customised Playing Cards for Dal Negro, is on a Zoom chat, my eyes keep straying to the mind-boggling selection of board games and other Dal Negro products neatly arranged on shelves behind him. He’s talking to me from his office, and judging by Compiano’s cheerful demeanour, as well as the array of eye-catching toys behind him that sets my childish heart racing, it seems that the playing card industry is, as I always suspected, all fun and games.
Manufacturing Cards since 1756
“I’m the Account Manager Casino & Customised Playing Cards for Dal Negro,” he explains, “And I mainly take care of the casino industry and customised playing cards for companies. I’ve been working for Dal Negro for five years, but Dal Negro is a very, very long-lived company.” Indeed, their factory in Treviso, northern Italy, has been manufacturing playing cards for over two centuries, with the Dal Negro family taking over the company in 1928. A company that’s been in business for that long must be doing something right. Of course, only the best will do when it comes to picking a playing card partner for The Festival.
“We supply many casinos all around the world, from the USA to Asia,” Compiano tells me, “But nowadays we are currently focussed mainly on Europe. Our policy is to supply high quality playing cards - we have a very high standard, and we take care of every detail, from the production to the shipping.” Producing casino-quality cards requires the greatest precision. “Before I worked here,” Compiano continues, “I always used to think about playing cards like a child, you know? But the reality is different, because to produce playing cards you must have a lot of know-how. Before you arrive at the final deck, you start with a big sheet of raw material, and each kind of material reacts differently to colours - plastic reacts differently to paper, and so on. There are many, many things you need to know to produce playing cards, from the printing to the cutting. Also the cutting machines - we have different ways to cut, different machines, depending on the material and how the cards will be used in the casino. So it’s a difficult way of production. And the long history of Dal Negro permits us to minimize mistakes, and have a very high quality of product. But because all the production is here [in the Treviso factory], it doesn’t take long to do everything - the printing, the cutting, the shipping departments are all in the same facility.”
Attention to Detail
It’s this combination of tradition and engineering know-how that sets Dal Negro apart from other playing card manufacturers. As well as an obsessive attention to detail throughout the whole manufacturing process, their security systems are second to none - from fingerprint access for employees and in-house destruction of printing plates, through storing finished decks in locked cages prior to shipping, with security camera footage available to clients through an app.
Although the pandemic has not been an easy time for the company, they have adapted and innovated to stay top of their proverbial game. While bricks-and-mortar casinos have have been closed, Dal Negro have concentrated on developing their special playing cards for live-action online gaming - casino games with a live dealer that you can play from the comfort of your home. “Many times in the last three years - and also because of covid, of course - people have asked for playing cards with barcodes,” Compiano explains. “They require barcodes because a camera reads the barcode and then knows exactly which card of the deck it is. For security reasons, and also because the system reads the barcode. And they’re a bigger size because the camera has to look at the card - if it’s normal size, it’s impossible to see.” Now that casinos are opening again, Dal Negro are also ready for the post-covid live gaming world with their innovative #playsafe antiviral coating for playing cards. “I think no-one has done this until now,” says Compiano. “It’s a new varnish that we put on the playing cards that is antibacterial and antiviral. All the clients in the last few months have been ordering cards with this coating. Because I think it is also good marketing for them with their clients.” In addition, the company is also proud of its green credentials, using solar power and an array of energy-saving measures in their production process to reduce their carbon emissions.
500 Dal Negro Decks for The Festival
Compiano is looking forward to working with The Festival over the next month and into the future. “This is a good opportunity for us to show our brand, to show our brand and product, and professional people inside this industry can understand how we work, what’s our product, and the quality. This is the score, for me, to be partners in The Festival and to make customised playing cards for The Festival.” At the time of writing, the factory is closed for the summer holiday, but the design work is already underway and the first 500 custom decks for The Festival in Bratislava will be rolling off the Dal Negro presses at the beginning of September, ready for action. Watch this space!