Recently the police and the Gambling Authority opened an attack on gambling clubs. Although the name sounds innocent, these places have proven to be a Walhalla for serious crimes. During extensive searches on a Thursday afternoon in pubs in the cities of Utrecht, Rotterdam and The Hague more than a hundred so-called ‘Cash Centers’ were confiscated. More than one million euros in foreign bank accounts were seized as well.
A new form of illegal gambling
Currently, investigators have four suspects in mind. At the moment, the police is investigating whether they are part of a larger gambling syndicate. In total more than 200 officers were involved in the actions against illegal gambling clubs. These places are a relatively new form of illegal gambling, which occurs mainly in cafés, tea and coffee houses and snack bars. Visitors can use special computers to deposit cash and then use an app to deposit anonymous money on sporting events. When they win, money can be taken from the club again. This is forbidden, because the Dutch law states that gambling on sport matches is only allowed when in the Lotto.
Illegal gambling clubs are everywhere in the Netherlands
Gambling clubs are illegal, but the results show that these so-called gambling clubs or ‘gambling pillars’ can be found everywhere in the Netherlands. In Rotterdam, agents seized more than fifty, in the Utrecht region twenty, in The Hague ten. But the police also found illegal gambling facilities in Limburg, Brabant and Noord-Holland. The municipalities from which the illegal gambling was removed are considering whether the cafes and shops should be closed immediately.
Illegal betting activities and millions of revenue
In August last year, the gaming authority already organized raids in Enschede and Rotterdam, where many illegal practices could be found. According to the Public Prosecution Service, the providers earn ‘millions of euros’ because of illegal betting activities. No arrests were made at that time though. According to the Public Prosecution Service, four of the persons whose administration was seized at the time are now suspects in the case. They offered Cash Centers and distributed them to shopkeepers and catering establishments.
Research on illegal gambling
A couple of years ago, two criminologists did a research commissioned by the Gambling Authority. They revealed that a lot of money is involved in this type of gambling. What’s more, the annual revenue of illegal gambling can be as high as 182.000 euros! Most of these ‘gambling pillars’ can be found in the catering establishments of Turkish entrepreneurs. Most players also have a Turkish background. The researchers estimated that the annual revenue of these gambling clubs was 37 million euros. This is by Dutch standards an illegal gambling activity of considerable magnitude.
Involvement in other criminal activities
Interesting to note as well is that the people who organize illegal gambling are usually involved with other forms of organized crimes as well. The researchers concluded this when they looked into the criminal antecedents of the people who organized this type of gambling. Sixty-six per cent were once suspected of a crime, while 28 per cent played a role in large-scale criminal investigations. At many locations where gambling clubs and activities were previously found, other criminal activities were found as well. For example, the police discovered cannabis cultivation and illegal prostitution. In at least one case, the suppliers of illegal gambling turned out to be part of a Turkish crime family that was involved in various forms of serious organized crime.
An important area of attention
The findings of the criminologists from Tilburg were reason enough for the Gaming Authority to focus even more on the phenomenon. Those who deposit money in illegal gambling clubs are completely uncontrollable and there is no view on money flows. There’s also no control on the fairness and safety of the casino as well. For example, there’s absolutely no view of the persons who take a gamble at these places and whether they are minors or have debts. This makes it extra difficult to prevent gambling addictions. Another problem is the money laundering that takes place in one of the Cash Centers. The Ksa calls illegal gambling, money laundering and other criminal activities in the gambling industry ‘an important area of attention’.