Austria’s financial police say they are concerned about the rise as they reveal they have confiscated over 660 gaming machines since January.
Austria.- The Finanzpolizei, Austria’s financial police, has raised concerns over an increase in illegal gaming activity, particularly in urban areas in the capital Vienna and Linz.
The force said it has confiscated over 660 gaming machines in 278 inspections carried out since January. More than half of the confiscated machines were found in Vienna.
It says illegal gambling has been significantly reduced in rural areas, but has risen in large urban centres.
It has issued more than €13million in fines in Vienna alone, but has also seen a spike in illegal gambling activity in Linz in the state of Upper Austria.
Its latest raids confiscated 38 gaming machines in the region, including from a restaurant that the police inspected seven times in as many weeks, from which police have confiscated 20 machines since May.
Austria’s Finance Minister, Gernot Blümel, highlighted the reduction of illegal gambling in rural areas.
He said: “I congratulate the colleagues from the financial police on these remarkable successes. Illegal gambling is now concentrated in the metropolitan areas and – thanks to the excellent work of the financial police – is no longer active across the country.
“The fight against organised illegal gambling will of course continue to protect players. The ‘gambling mafia’ benefits from people’s addiction and destroys their finances, so we must show absolutely no tolerance here.”
Earlier in the year, Blümel said Austria should create an independent gambling regulator to take on responsibilities currently held by the treasury.