Large Scale Italian Online Gambling Bust

Euro 1 billion in assets seized

Italian media outlets are reporting a massive online gambling bust involving 68 suspected mafia members and the seizure of Euro 1 Billion in assets across twelve countries.

The large scale international operation was led by Italy’s anti-mafia and counter-terrorism directorate and involved over 800 police officers.

According to authorities the suspects have been accused of mafia association, money laundering, fraud and tax dodging through associations with online betting businesses “allowing them to recycle large quantities of money through illegal parallel circuits on betting platforms in exchange for promotion and protection”.

The total value of the bets involved were reported to be over Euro 4.5 billion, while the seizure of Euro 1 billion in assets spanned Albania, Austria, Great Britain, Germany, the Isle of Man, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, Romania, Serbia, the Seychelles and Switzerland.

“We can see from ongoing investigations how the mafias work together in different sectors,” Federico Cafiero de Raho, National Anti-Mafia and Counter-Terrorism Prosecutor, said in a press briefing. “We still need to establish whether there is a fixed leadership or if the deals change depending on the territories involved.”

A number of online betting firms have allegedly been linked to the racket with London-based ParadiseBet and Malta-based Centurionbet named along with Malta-based SKS365 (PlanetWin365) and OIA Services Ltd (Betaland and Enjoybet).

Malta’s digital economy parliamentary secretary Silvio Schembri said in Parliament Wednesday that the Malta Gambling Authority is cooperating closely with Italy’s Guardia di Finanza – a milestone in a previous uncooperative relationship.

A formal cooperation agreement will reportedly be signed by the two countries in the coming days which will cover the analysis of information for the purpose of detecting illicit activity.