In a crackdown on illegal gambling, Austrian financial police have confiscated 76 gaming machines in Salzburg during a series of raids.
The police visited seven bars, which were camouflaged from the outside as different categories of businesses including nail salons, tanning salons, and internet cafes. The individuals that operated these locations had secured all the premises with magnetic locks and had set up video-monitoring equipment both inside and outside. The police said that coercive force was required to attain access to five of the bars, while two more needed the services of a locksmith.
The operators of the illegal machines could face a fine of up to EUR30,000 ($33,033) per venue. The finance ministry said that the police could claim that the operation was quite successful.
The Finance Ministry highlighted one operator of an illegal gambling establishment who had acted particularly boldly. Following nine machines being confiscated on the first day of operation from the venue, nine more devices were discovered five days later when the police again visited the bar.
During the four days of operation, 15 financial police officers worked together with 20 local police officers to carry out the enforcement action.
Austrian Finance Minister Praises Crackdown on Illegal Gambling
Austrian finance minister Magnus Brunner stated that the crackdown was a setback for organized crime. He pointed out that illegal gambling operators were earning massive profits at the expense of gambling addicts. The minister emphasized that resolute action by the financial police was crucial in addressing the situation and that the authorities would not display any leniency towards offenders in the future. The police highlighted that such operations will be conducted again in the future.
A similar operation was conducted at the beginning of December 2022. The Austrian financial police raided fraudulent venues in Upper Austria and Salzburg regions as part of a bigger campaign against fraud, resulting in the seizure of 123 illegal slot machines, 72 of which were seized in Salzburg.
Many of the illegal gambling facilities were disguised as legal venues, such as an internet shop, a wine bar, a crêperie, and a waxing studio. The police had to use force to gain access to some of the venues.
The seized machines were later destroyed, and almost $18,000 in cash was recovered and kept by the police. Illegal operators faced fines of up to $4,200 per machine.