Although the game of poker is legal, it is allowed only in licensed casinos under Portuguese gambling laws.
Organizing poker games outside of casinos, especially in favorite tourist destination such as Madeira, is a very tempting opportunity for unlicensed operators, but such activities are likely to land them in the police news instead of the gambling news sections of the news portals, with “rewards” ranging between three months and two years in prison.
This could be the fate facing 18 people arrested today by officers of the National Republican Guard (GNR), when they shut down an illegal Portuguese poker rooms on the island of Madeira.
The operation followed four months of investigation according to the local GNR command. They have made it clear that the state would not tolerate such activities.
“Games of chance can only be tried and played in casinos located in areas designated either permanently or temporarily for this purpose. In the case of Madeira, this is restricted to Casino da Madeira,” said the regional GNR’s second in command, Major Marco Nunes.
The operation (called “All in”) resulted in the seizing of two cars, 18 mobiles, an iPad, a laptop and over EUR 2,200 in cash from a private home used as a poker hall – a total value of around EUR 47,000 according to the authorities.
The 18 defendants belong to diverse demographics, aged between 18 and 49 years, and include students, businessmen, teachers and unemployed. Ten of them were caught in the act.
Both of the confiscated vehicles had foreign registrations and were on Madeira illegally, along with several of the people running the game. GNR has not yet released their nationalities.