Earlier this week, a massive country-wide simultaneous police raids, involving more than five hundred police officers, struck over three hundred illegal gambling parlors and online casinos in Serbia.
The Chief Prosecutor of Organize Crime of Serbia, Mr. Miljko Radisavljević disclosed during a news conference the arrest of 17 individuals responsible for costing Serbian tax coffers millions of euros in unpaid gambling taxes. Out of the 17 individuals, five suspects were senior gambling inspectors with the Department of Gambling & Sports Betting – the country’s casino regulatory agency.
The regulatory agency, created under Serbian gambling laws, had a total staff of six senior gambling inspectors. The inspectors’ job functions were to approve gambling licenses as well as schedule unannounced inspections.
Once an inspection had been scheduled, a team of junior inspectors made the physical inspection. The purpose of the inspections was to compare the establishment’s license to make sure that the correct taxes were paid based on the total number of slots and table games located on premises.
The senior inspectors accepted large cash payments, as well as expensive gifts, cars, money, jewelry and luxury vacations. In exchange, the casino operators were warned of upcoming surprise inspections. The inspectors also issued invalid gambling licenses to hundreds of organized crime operated casinos and passed along any confidential information of interest to high ranking members of the Serbian Mafia.
The remaining twelve individuals who were arrested after the raids were organized crime figures and suspected owners of fraudulent gambling halls, underground casinos and illegal online sportsbooks in Serbia.
Every senior inspector in the Department of Gambling & Sports Betting of Serbian was arrested. Out of the six inspectors, five were arrested during the raids while the sixth became a police informant after secretly being arrested on an unrelated bank robbery charge earlier this month.
The six inspectors face a barrage of serious charges including corruption, accepting bribes, membership in a criminal organization, fraud, forgery and abuse of official position without authorization (ed. The inspectors should have received authorization first!)
The only person who wasn’t arrested in the senior inspection offices of the Serbian gambling regulator was the eighty year old secretary, a war widow suffering from mild-dementia, and the office tomcat, Yob.