Illegal gambling has been rampant in Austria recently. A lot has happened in the gambling mafia recently. So-called underground casinos are spreading rapidly, especially in the capital Vienna. The gambling mafia likes to convert vacant houses and cellars there into many a gambling establishment. In mid-February, such an underground casino was discovered in the Favoriten district during a raid and any gambling items such as slot machines and poker tables were seized.
In the focus of the Austrian government
Politicians recognize the problem of illegal gambling and would like to focus more on the topic. Since 2012 there have been very strict rules for setting up slot machines in Austria. Nevertheless, the legal regulations do not seem to be strict enough, because the spread of illegal slot machines seems to be getting a bit out of control at the moment.
The Austrian Finance Minister Gernot Blümel is also aware of the spread of criminal structures in the field of illegal gambling and trusts the ability of the financial police to continue to fight against them.
But this fight is not an easy one and now there were four more raids in Salzburg, all of which took place within a week. Incidentally, along with Vienna, Salzburg is one of the cities in Austria most affected by illegal gambling.
Over 60 police officers were involved in the raids. 69 slot machines were confiscated and a whopping 500,000 euros in fines were imposed on the operators of illegal gambling. During the raids, the police sometimes met drunk gamblers at the machines. The confiscated slot machines, all of which were not properly registered, are said to have a total value of 250,000 euros.
Apparently anonymous tips, including a tip from a landlord of a property in which illegal gambling has taken place, helped the police to detect it.
In the middle of the center of Salzburg, a bar disguised as a coffee house was discovered in the course of the first raid. The view into the café is said to have been covered with stickers that indicated an alleged closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The real reason for the taping was, of course, privacy protection and avoiding exposure from the criminal acts.
The second raid took place in the area of the Salzburg main train station. There was good camouflage there too. This time, however, a restaurant was issued as a tanning salon.
A similar action was carried out in the middle of December last year in the bar that became the location of the third raid. Slot machines have been confiscated, most of which have even been manipulated so that the winnings are better. Eight unauthorized gaming machines and a betting terminal have now been confiscated there again.
The fourth raid took place in downtown Salzburg. Three of the four places were closed by the authorities.
Is Legalization a Solution?
Again and again, however, there is criticism of the government’s current actions, according to which it is responsible for the spread of illegal gambling. The legalization of the so-called “small game of chance” could be a solution to counteract illegal gambling with slot machines. This is prohibited in the federal states of Vienna, Salzburg, Tyrol and Vorarlberg.
These strict regulations and the monopoly position of Casinos Austria are reasons why gambling addicts often try their luck in the forbidden arcades. The strict gambling regulations have also created illegal networks.