Italian law enforcement authorities have made dozens of arrests in the latest attempt to crack down on illegal gambling in the country.
On Wednesday, in co-ordination with the National Anti-Mafia and Counter-Terrorism Directorate, Italian police made 68 arrests in Bari, Reggio Calabria and Catania, seizing assets worth more than €1b as the culmination of an international illegal gambling operation. Those arrested are likely to be charged with a range of offences, from illegal gambling and money laundering to tax evasion.
In Catania alone, it is believed that the illegal operations earned over €50m profit between 2011 and 2017, much of which was laundered through shell companies in Curacao. Police also revealed that the betting brands involved had been operating parallel networks of illegal transactions along with their official, licensed operations. Many of the gambling sites were licensed in Malta, and Maltese-licensed groups have previously featured heavily in illegal gambling operations.
But speaking about the link with Malta, Parliamentary Secretary Silvio Schembri said on Wednesday that the police had been given full co-operation and assistance by the Malta Gaming Authority, and that a new agreement would soon be signed, strengthening enforcement links with Malta.
Among the domains involved in the crackdown are sites linked to Revolutionbet, Futurebet, Betcom, Betworld365, ParadiseBet. They also involved a company called CenturionBet, which had its Maltese licence removed in June 2017, and according to the Italian media, has links with Mafia figures.
Gambling domains linked to Betaland and Enjoybet were also under investigation, and Italian officials claim that their operating site OIA Services Ltd has failed to declare millions of Euros in revenue in recent years, though the company issued a statement stated that their operations had not relation to the illegal gambling probe, and that they were collaborating with the Italian authorities.
Italian police in riot gear image taken from shutterstock.com
Luke is originally from Auckland, New Zealand. However, he now resides in the north of England. He is a freelance journalist who enjoys covering the latest happenings in the gambling industry. Luke can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.