Italian prosecutors may try up to 71 people over illegal online gambling operation

The Italian government is planning to overhaul the licensed gaming sector.
The Italian government is planning to overhaul the licensed gaming sector.

A mafia-run operation in the south of the country is alleged to have made €5m in two years.

Italy.- Mercato San Severino, in the southern Italian city of Salerno, was the base of an alleged criminal consortium running illegal online betting, according to prosecutors. They claim an organised mafia group run by the Casalesi clan (Venosa-Schiavone faction) was behind the operation.

Prosecutors claim that an investigation led by the carabinieri of the Salerno investigative unit found that the operation had made €5m in two years. Some 33 precautionary orders were issued in January.

Now prosecutors Giancarlo Russo and Francesca Fittipaldi of the Naples DDA is considering possible indictments against 71 people on charges ranging from criminal association aimed at illegal gaming and betting to fictitious registration of assets, money laundering and reuse of money from the proceeds of crime in economic activities.

Four months ago, military seized the assets of 11 websites and two companies with registered offices in Mercato San Severino, sealing assets worth €3m. The criminal organisation is said to have made use of an electronic management and administration system conceived in the early 2000s and later enhanced to serve a gaming community of several million users located all over the world.

The organisers used websites with .com and .eu domains without the approval of the Italian regulator, the Customs and Monopolies Agency, ADM, which regulates gambling. The servers were physically located in tax havens such as Panama and the island of Curacao.

In February, Italy’s Ministry of Economy and Finance drafted a preliminary reorganisation plan to revamp market safeguards in Italy’s betting market. It came as operators continued to wait for a definitive answer from the Customs and Monopolies Agency (ADM) on licence expirations.

The plan mentions reducing stake and win limits, but does not go into detail on the amounts or what verticals they would apply to. It also wants to impose a central player registry with which all problem-gambling self-exclusion schemes and licensed operators must integrate

Meanwhile, Italy’s undersecretary for sports Valentina Vezzali is currently seeking to convince the country’s fiscal ministries of her proposal for a permanent 1 per cent tax on sport betting revenue.

It’s claimed that a 1 per cent tax on betting revenue would give the treasury an additional €160m in betting duties on top of the €500m it collects through fixed duties of 18 per cent for retail and 22 per cent for online.

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