Austria Police engaged in a planned raid on gambling establishments operating without licenses across 39 areas in the country. Ultimately, they confiscated 121 gaming machines including auto roulette games popular in live casinos,
slots, and gambling terminals. The raid was carried out on a large scale by officers in eastern and central Austria’s Steyr, Linz-Land, Wels, and Linz regions. Some locations made efforts to outwit the police officers by locking up the establishments and using signs like “electricity, danger to life” and “closed” on their doors. As a result, the police had to get through 11 doors with the aid of locksmiths, while many machines had to be removed with the force since they were anchored to walls.
Statement from Austria’s finance minister
Gernot Blümel, the finance minister of Austria, stated that:
The frequent operations of the financial police against unlawful gambling activities had made it continuously unappealing for operators to pursue their illegal activities that take advantage of gambling addicts.
He further noted that this is a major setback for organized crime in Upper Austria, and the financial police will not stop making efforts to stop them in the future. This is the most recent large raid of unlawful gaming outlets authorities have carried out in the country. It follows a raid similar to that of 17 illegal gaming outlets in June.
Statement From the Head of The Financial Police
The Head of The Financial Police in the anti-fraud office, Wilfried Lehner, stated that:
Relatives and neighbors of people dealing with gambling addiction can rest assured that the Linz and Wels area is now free from unlawful gambling outlets. He added that these operations would be repeated again of the bars restart operations.
Impact of the New Supervisory Gambling Authority
The recent development of closing illegal gambling outlets is coming after Gernot Blümel, the finance minister of Austria, announced that there would be a huge overhaul of gambling regulations in Austria, one of which includes creating a new supervisory authority. The new gambling regulator will take up the role of licensing casinos and enforcing gambling regulations. It was promised that the changes would come alongside new transparency rules and protection controls, while the new regulator will establish a national self-exclusion system for land-based and online gambling.
The new authority was also tasked with establishing a blacklist of unlicensed operators and will have the capacity to request ISPs to block access to these websites. This massive raid is only a sign that the financial authority is aware of the dangers posed by these unlicensed platforms and is willing to do what it takes to protect players.