Straperlo was a business which tried to introduce in Spain in the 1930s a fraudulent roulette which could be controlled electrically with the push of a button. The ensuing scandal was one of the causes of the fall of the government and the polarization of the parliament, which lead to the Spanish Civil War (1936–1939).

The name had its origin in the names of the Dutch partners one of which was Strauss but sources differ on the exact name or names of the others. Some sources say there was just one other partner called Perl, Perel, Pearl, Perlo or Perlowitz. Some sources state there was a third female partner called Lowann who was the wife of Strauss.

In 1935 they used their influence with the upper levels of the government to install the roulette in the casino Kursaal in San Sebastian
San Sebastián
Donostia-San Sebastián is a city and municipality located in the north of Spain, in the coast of the Bay of Biscay and 20 km away from the French border. The city is the capital of Gipuzkoa, in the autonomous community of the Basque Country. The municipality’s population is 186,122 , and its...

 but the police discovered the fraud and it was forbidden. As the business had invested a lot of money in the venture they tried to recover it by blackmailing the prime minister, Alejandro Lerroux
Alejandro Lerroux
Alejandro Lerroux y García was a Spanish politician who was the leader of the Radical Republican Party during the Second Spanish Republic...

, because his nephew was involved in the business and in the trafficking of influence. Lerroux refused to get involved and Strauss denounced the case to the president of the republic, Niceto Alcala Zamora who made it public. The reaction of the parties in the opposition caused the fall of Lerroux and his Radical Republican Party
Radical Republican Party
The Radical Republican Party , sometimes shortened to the Radical Party was a Spanish political party founded in 1908 by Alejandro Lerroux in Santander, Cantabria by a split from the historical Republican Union party led by Nicolás Salmerón....


After the scandal and more so after the Spanish Civil War
Spanish Civil War
The Spanish Civil WarAlso known as The Crusade among Nationalists, the Fourth Carlist War among Carlists, and The Rebellion or Uprising among Republicans. was a major conflict fought in Spain from 17 July 1936 to 1 April 1939...

the word was incorporated as "estraperlo" into the Spanish language with the meaning of any business which is illegal or corrupt. Most often it refers to smuggling.
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