The number of illegally working gambling operators in the Portuguese market greatly decreased

12 November 2018

The pan-European police service Europol has teamed up with Portuguese authorities to combat illegal online gambling.

Europol announced a series of raids in Portugal and Luxembourg, which resulted in the arrest of 30 people. The arrests were followed by a 15-month investigation called the Shadow Game, which aimed to eradicate illegal sports betting and lottery operations. It became known that illegal operators earned about €80 million.

Europol reported that the criminal network was a “structured and hierarchical transnational criminal organization” operating in Belgium, Luxembourg, Portugal and Switzerland. The illegal business was "aimed at software servers for the development of gambling, lotteries and sports betting."

The alleged goal of the suspects was to “obtain and maximize illicit revenues, thanks to their separation along the chain of operators and reinvestment in legitimate economic sectors and enterprises”. In addition to the arrest, Europol accused 93 people and 14 commercial enterprises.

The GNR police agency in Portugal reports that seven of those arrested were caught “at the crime scene”. The suspects received numerous charges, including the organization of illegal gambling, tax fraud and money laundering, as well as the creation of a criminal gang.

In addition, Europol and its partner agents seized €576 thousand in cash, as well as bank accounts and other “criminal assets” worth about €6 million, including about 3 thousand “computer devices used for illegal gambling”, 22 firearms and 86 vehicles.

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