AgiproNews Italian View: Gambling left red-faced by mafia investigations

Italian gambling has been rocked by the anti-Mafia taskforce investigation into illegal/fraudulent gambling activities conducted across Southern Italy.

This November, the anti-corruption taskforce of the financial and federal police had conducted eighty search warrants arresting sixty-eight suspects on charges of corruption and fraud.

The criminal investigations targeting the coastal cities of Catania, Reggio Calabria and Bari, are reported to have seized assets worth + €1 billion assisting illegal functions for money laundering, stolen data, tax evasion and the operating of black market gambling websites.

A sophisticated illegal gambling and money laundering network believed to be attached to the Santapaola (Sicily), Tegano (Calabria) and Martiradonna-Parisi (Puglia) Mafia families are reported to have accumulated a gaming turnover of over €4.5 billion.

The ongoing Italian police investigation carries an international spill-over, as the network is reported to have used the services of Malta-licensed online betting operators Planetwin365, Revolutionbet, Bet1128, Betaland and Enjoybet, as money laundering vehicles.

Catania Investigation prosecutor Carmelo Zuccaro has stated that the Malta incumbents had knowingly participated in money laundering transactions for the Mafia network.

In the case of planetwin365, a leading Italian player for retail and digital markets, the police task force has clarified that its investigation focused on the firm’s previous management which operated holding company SkS365 Malta (timeframe 2015-2017).

The governance of Austria based SKS365 Group has issued a corporate statement underlying that it fully supports the police’s investigation, meanwhile legacy Italian bookmaker Betaland has moved to shut-down its website.

The anti-corruption investigation marks a new low for Italian gambling, taking place during a critical period for all industry incumbents adjusting to the hostile operating conditions imposed by the Lega-5Star coalition government.

Italian Deputy PM Luigi Di Maio praised the work of federal police, insisting the coalition to be fundamentally right in targeting ‘gambling as a fertile ground for mafias to secure easy money’.

Overseeing Italian gambling regulations and licensing policy, the Agency of Customs and Monopolies (ADM) will likely be pressured to revise its stance with regards to Malta-licensed operators, as further lousy news circulates, in what has become a vast and embarrassing net for Italian betting.

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