Dozens caught in sting
A criminal group based in Mercato San Severino, Salerno, Italy has been busted for running an illegal online gambling operation.
group is run by the Casalesi Clan
Prosecutors allege that the group is run by the Casalesi Clan (Venosa-Schiavone faction), an organized mafia group. The operation made €5m ($5.4m) in two years, according to reports.
An investigation led by the Salerno’s carabinieri— a gendarmerie that primarily handles domestic policing— uncovered the mafia-backed enterprise. Thirty-three precautionary orders were issued in January, and indictments could now be presented to up to 71 people.
Detailing the charges against the Mafia
Prosecutors Giancarlo Russo and Francesca Fittipaldi of the Naples Local Antimafia Directorate (DDA) are leading the judicial charge. Charges against the 71 people range from criminal association to money laundering to reuse of illegal money.
reach a gaming base of millions of people around the world
The organization used an early-2000s electronic management and administration system to reach a gaming base of millions of people around the world. The masterminds behind the ring used .eu and .com domains without approval from the Customs and Monopolies Agency (ADM), which is the Italian regulator for such businesses.
The military seized the assets of 11 websites and two offices in Mercato San Severino four months ago; this resulted in the confiscation of nearly €3m ($3.24m). The physical servers for the websites were located in tax havens like Panama and Curacao.
The bust also implicated nearby Malta, an island nation with over 525,000 citizens south of Italy’s boot. The Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project noted that “Maltese online gambling is an infamous cash cow” as it was linked to the ‘Ndrangheta family.
Changes brewing in Italy
Italy’s Ministry of Economy and Finance penned a plan to guard against illegal betting operations back in February. Unanswered questions over license expirations directed at the ADM spurred the decision.
calls for a central regulating body
The plan deals with limiting stakes and payouts but does not explicitly describe the upper thresholds. It also calls for a central regulating body, which would handle self-excluded persons, problem-gambling schemes, and regulated agencies in harmony.
Valentina Vezzali, Italy’s undersecretary for sports, is also lobbying for a permanent 1% tax on sports betting revenue. This is based on research that suggests the permanent tax would create another €160m ($172.83m) in addition to the €500m ($540.12m) already collected from retail (18%) and online (22%) fees.
Under Italian law, only the country – through the Autonomous Administration of State Monopolies – can issue gambling licenses. The country has long avoided liberal legislation out of fear of interference from illegal operators, such as the Mafia.