February 1, 2024 3 min read


Italian Police Strikes Malta-Based iGaming Company Linked to Organized Crime

The authorities believe the offending operator was just a front to launder funds obtained from illegal gambling operations across Italy

A coordinated operation by law enforcement forces across Italy executed a court order for confiscating assets worth approximately €400 million ($433 million) belonging to an iGaming operator registered in Malta. This action follows Italy’s intensifying efforts to counter organized crime infiltration in the online gaming and betting sectors, curbing corruption and money laundering operations.

The Organization’s Reach Extended Across Europe

An international investigation revealed the offending operator’s ties to a sophisticated criminal system engaged in running black market online gambling operations. The organization’s headquarters was in Italy’s Reggio Calabria region, but it projected its influence abroad through companies with offices in Malta, Romania, Austria, and Spain. Such illegal operators can be very damaging, offering virtually zero customer protection or responsible gambling safeguards.

The operator used a so-called “cascade” system, enabled through contacts with criminal organizations. These elements provided protection and helped popularize the brand online, while local businesses facilitated the illicit collection of proceeds, with a share going to the criminal entities. This arrangement was used to launder significant sums and would have continued expanding.

The group avoided detection by transferring most proceeds from illegal activities abroad, evading Italian tax authorities. The unnamed kingpin at the center of the investigation held a prominent position in the Malta-based company. However, the operator primarily targeted the Italian market via multiple outlets dedicated to betting and games of chance, obscuring its involvement.

Gambling Companies Remain Susceptible to Criminal Influence

Authorities learned of this organization after an investigation into links between businesses and organized crime revealed that the crime boss at the center of the operation held assets that did not align with his declared income. This discrepancy allowed the court to issue a seizure warrant on the suspect’s assets, followed by a second order to seize all assets linked to three connected iGaming companies.

The estimated total value of the seized assets is roughly €400 million. The court also decreed special surveillance of the suspect for two and a half years, ordering him not to leave his municipality. This development highlights a milestone success for Italy’s financial police and Public Prosecutor’s office as the offending operators will no longer threaten the safety of Europeans.

The online gaming and betting sector, often susceptible to criminal infiltration and money laundering, continues to face scrutiny as law enforcement works diligently to curb corruption. Italian authorities have substantial experience uncovering gambling-related crime, but the extensive reach of such illegal networks makes lasting progress difficult. Hopefully, the investigation will provide sufficient evidence to target other such enterprises before they can do much harm.

Deyan is an experienced writer, analyst, and seeker of forbidden lore. He has approximate knowledge about many things, which he is always willing to apply when researching and preparing his articles. With a degree in Copy-editing and Proofreading, Deyan is able to ensure that his work writing for GamblingNews is always up to scratch.

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