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Italian police hits mafia gambling empire

On last Wednesday Italian authorities have arrested dozens of suspects in yet another crackdown on illegal gambling connected to organized crime.

In a joint operation Italian police in Bari, Reggio Calabria and Catania, in coordination with the National Anti-Mafia and Counter-Terrorism Directorate, arrested 68 individuals and seized assets worth over €1b.

The arrested individuals face a battery of charges, including illegal gambling, money laundering, tax evasion and connections to organized crime. Three separate investigations were bundled into a single action after determining that the illegal gambling operations were interconnected.

In the Catania only it is believed to have netted a profit of over €50m between 2011 and 2017. Most profits were laundered through a variety of shell companies, most of them based in Curacao.

Among the gambling domains cited in Wednesday’s busts are sites linked to Revolutionbet, Futurebet, Betcom, Betworld365, ParadiseBet and CenturionBet. The latter company had its Maltese license suspended in June 2017 for unexplained reasons, but Italian media have linked the site, along with its affiliated Bet1128 brand, to reputed Mafia figures.

Italy’s Deputy Premier Luigi Di Maio, who championed the country’s notorious crackdown on gambling advertising, said Wednesday’s arrests indicated that gambling was “fertile ground for the mafias, to obtain easy earnings and laundering dirty money.” Di Maio said the arrests indicate that “there is still a lot to do and we will not back down.”

 

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