Austrian Police Raid Two Illegal Venues
Austria’s financial police have shut down two more illegal gambling venues in the capital city of Vienna, after close collaboration with the country’s Federal Criminal Police Office. Two illegal sites in the Vienna districts of Donaustadt and Rudolfsheim-Fünfhaus were raided late in the evening on February 24th. This follows additional raids by police in 2020.
Detectives Uncovered Drugs at First Illegal Gambling Sites
The late evening operation on February 24th, 2020 saw two illegal gambling sites in the Vienna districts of Donaustadt and Rudolfsheim-Fünfhaus raided by financial police.
Additional support arrived from Austria’s Federal Criminal Police Office, after it was revealed there had been close collaboration between them and the financial police.
According to the financial police, the raids ended up dealing a significant blow against those actors behind organized gambling crime in Austria.
The evening of February 24th’s first raid occurred at the Rudolfsheim-Fünfhaus illegal gambling site, during which officers found ten players using gambling machines, several of whom, upon the officers’ entry, proceeded to try and hide, as well as flee the scene via an exit.
As a result of the Rudolfsheim-Fünfhaus raid, seven illegal gaming machines and cash were seized by the officers.
More surprises from the evening’s first raid arrived in the form of drugs, which detective officers from the Federal Criminal Police Office uncovered on one of the players in the illegal gambling site.
A drug detection dog was subsequently brought in, thereby discovering more contraband, as well as containers police claim are normally used for street deals.
Second Raid Uncovered Illegal High-Stakes Poker Operation
The evening’s second raid occurred in Vienna’s Donaustadt district, where officers discovered a hidden, sealed-off bar located on the ground floor of a restaurant.
The door to the clandestine bar was opened voluntarily due to the large mobilization of police officers outside.
Inside, police discovered thirty four players illegally gambling across three poker tables, each with upwards of approximately €21,000 in cash. Two illegal gaming machines were also uncovered.
It was further revealed that binds in the poker games being conducted at the illegal site were up to €20, which therefore means that thousands of Euro were being bet per round of poker.
Police subsequently interviewed all players and staff extensively, with those found responsible for organizing the illegal operation held at the location by police. The poker dealers and waitress on site were also investigated.
Finance Minister Notes Rise in Illegal Gambling Activity
Following the raids on illegal gambling operators in the Rudolfsheim-Fünfhaus and Donaustadt districts of Vienna, Austria’s finance minister Gernot Blümel warned of an increase in newly established criminal elements in the Austrian capital.
In a press release detailing the two raids on the night of February 24th, 2020, Blümel noted how “new criminal structures in illegal gambling have recently arisen” in Vienna.
However, Blümel likewise took the opportunity to praise the financial police’s consistent efforts, while simultaneously noting the pitfalls typically associated with gambling addiction:
“The consistent work of the financial police brings these mafia-like gangs from the southeast under massive pressure. The high addiction factor of gambling leads to the fact that addicted gamblers often try to compensate for their financial losses through crime.”
In closing, Austrian finance minister Gernot Blümel further warned of the particularly volatile combination that is drug use being mixed with illegal gambling, vowing that the Austrian authority’s battle against illegal gambling will not be slowing anytime soon:
“The combination of illegal gambling and drug use, which is increasingly occurring in Vienna, is particularly fatal. We will continue to take tough and consistent action against these criminals and continue our excellent cooperation with the police. The fight against illegal gambling will continue to be pushed.”– Gernot Blümel, Finance Minister of Austria
Ministry of Finance Report Reveals Increase in Illegal Seizures
Following recent illegal gambling seizures across the Austrian capital of Vienna, there has been renewed concern surrounding criminal networks operating illegal gambling sites across the country.
The raids come in light of Austria’s Ministry of Finance: reporting an overall increase in the number of illegal gaming devices seized by police in 2020.
Surprisingly strong figures revealed an overall positive trend in the financial police’s enforcement efforts in 2020, showing how the force confiscated upwards of 1,463 illegal gaming machines over the course of the year — representing a year-on-year increase of approximately 100 machines, or 7.3%.
The report also revealed that a total of 637 establishments were inspected by the financial police in accordance with Austria’s Gambling Act.
This increased activity on the behalf of the police came despite significant disruptions to its day-to-day operations due to the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) global pandemic.
As a result of raids conducted on premises where illegal gambling was found to be in operation, penalties totaling upwards of €32.2 million (£28.1m/$38.5m) were imposed on the parties found to be involved.
Austria’s Ministry of Finance, also known as the Bundesministerium Finanzen, ended by noting how the number of illegal gambling devices confiscated in Austria is increasing every year.
Additional Raids Across Austria Took Place in July 2020
The recent February 2021 police raids against illegal gambling ventures in Vienna arrived not long after the country saw similar, but far more widespread, operations during the summer of 2020.
The cities of Linz and Wels in the region of Upper Austria experienced raids by Austrian financial authorities in July 2020, with six overall locations being targeted in these cities by the authorities.
The result of the police’s haul was 38 fixed-odds gambling machines and two poker tables being successfully seized — all as a result of the targeted raids on properties that were suspected of running illegal gambling venues.
The overall increase in illegal gambling activity and subsequent raids, along with the purportedly brazen flouting of rules and regulations, has prompted calls for an independent regulatory body to be formed in Austria, with the hopes they would preside over the enforcement of gambling legislation in the country.