Polish police conducted its largest crackdown on illegal gambling on Wednesday according to official reports. The crackdown was aimed at locating and removing illegal gambling terminals in region of Rzeszow in the southeast of Poland, as well as arresting their operators.
Led by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBS), the agency that deals with organized crime, the raid involved around 2,500 police officers, including anti-terrorist and customs units.
Descending on some 800 places, including small bars, filling stations and roadside diners, law enforcement officials seized nearly 1,200 slots, video poker machines and online gambling terminals in just 24 hours and arrested 11 suspects for operating a large scale illegal gambling ring.
“This is the biggest nationwide action so far concerning illegal gambling. It has shocked that [criminal] community, and hopefully it will impede its development,” said Inspector Mariusz Sokolowski.
The alleged leader of the gambling ring, named only as Adam G. has also been arrested and charged with money-laundering, among other offenses.
Polish gambling laws prohibit gambling terminals or gambling machines of any kind to be installed outside of licensed establishments, and police claim that Adam G. was trying to avoid paying the taxes required of legal gambling enterprises.
Ever since the government installed some strict regulations in 2011, banning online casinos in Poland along with most other forms of gambling, law enforcement has kept a close watch on illegal operations.
As the only remaining legal form of online gambling is to bet on sports in Poland, any of the machines that offered other internet gambling options were breaching the law in more than one way. To avoid suspicion and give the impression of a lawful business, many of the confiscated machines had been masquerading as legitimate Forex trading terminals.
According to official estimates the criminal enterprise was making around EUR 36 million in annual profits. (Just for comparison: 5 million in profits is considered to be a good annual result in the Swiss casino industry.)
According to Inspector Sokolowski, “a large part of this amount was definitely identified on invoices filed by associated companies at tax offices, thereby legalizing criminal profit,” Sokolowski said.