Austria: police raid 17 suspected illegal gambling venues

Austria is trying to clamp down on illegal gambling.
Austria is trying to clamp down on illegal gambling.

The financial police carried out a series of coordinated raids on 17 suspected illegal gambling venues in Austria.

Austria.- The financial police in Austria have raided 17 venues in a coordinated operation targeting suspected illegal gambling.

Police said the venues, described as bars and restaurants, were working together via an “almost perfect advance warning system” in order to tip each other off in the case of police activity. However, through carrying out the raids simultaneously to avoid a warning being passed on, officers found 16 of the 17 venues in operation.

The venues were mainly located in hidden locations like closed alleyways and had controls on who could enter, officers said. However, police were granted entry voluntarily and did not have to use force.

Police seized up to 17 gaming machines at each venue. Five of the venues had their devices screwed down to the floor, meaning that police required assistance from the fire service to remove them.

The Ministry of Finance said that the operation had been planned meticulously, with intense investigations carried out beforehand. It said that police were searching for the people responsible for running the venues.

Finance minister Gernot Blümel said: “The record of the night of action is impressive. A total of 91 devices were confiscated and transported away by the financial police. I congratulate my colleagues in the financial police on this blow against the gambling mafia and on their professional work.”

Austria has seen a rise in illegal gambling in urban centres. In February, Austria’s financial police and the Federal Criminal Police Office raided illegal gambling venues in the districts of Rudolfsheim-Fünfhaus and Donaustadt in the capital, Vienna.

Earlier this year, a major overhaul of gambling regulations in Austria was announced, with the treasury to pass responsibility for licensing and enforcement to a new dedicated regulatory authority.

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