Austrian Finance Police raid illegal gambling operators
A series of raids were carried out by the Austrian financial police in cooperation with the Salzburg police to crack down on illegal gambling in Salzburg, this month.
The illegal gambling operators were dealt a blow by the confiscation of 76 illegal gaming machines.
Over the course of the raid, 15 members of the financial police’s Cobra task force worked closely with 20 officers from the local police to deal havoc on the illegal operators who operated undercover. The places the police visited were seven bars that were camouflaged from the outside as different types of businesses, including a nail salon, tanning salon and internet café.
The operators could be fined up to €30,000 per unit, though actual fines typically run towards €5,000 on average.
The police had to forcefully gain entrance into five of the bars, while a locksmith was called on to open the locks on the other two. The individuals who operated the locations had secured all the premises with magnetic locks and had set up video-monitoring equipment both inside and outside.
In one instance, one of the bars that were raided was located in a basement in which 15 illegal slot machines were found. The operator had placed the establishment right next to an official building and access was via the official car park.
Another operator was described by the Finance Ministry as having acted “particularly boldly”. After the confiscation of nine machines on the first day of the operation, a further nine machines were discovered five days later when the police again visited the bar.
According to the Finance Ministry, the police achieved “a great deal of success” for their actions during the campaign. Meanwhile the Austrian finance minister lauded the success of the campaign while calling for “resolute action by the financial police” which is “of great importance” in tackling organised crime. He also added that henceforward they will “not show any tolerance towards criminals in the future.”
The crackdown on illegal gaming machines in Salzburg serves as a warning to others who might be involved in such activities. The use of coercive force and locksmiths highlights the seriousness with which the authorities view such activities. The financial police’s resolute action is a clear indication of their commitment to tackling organized crime and the exploitation of gambling addicts.