Slovakia’s gambling sector has been shaken, as state-run gaming company Tipos had its offices searched and its director arrested on charge of money laundering.
Yesterday morning, around 30 Slovak National Criminal Agency (NAKA) officers raided the Bratislava headquarters of Tipos Slovakia and detained company Chairman Ján Barczi and IT Director Miloš Prelec.
According to local media reports, Barczi and Prelec had been arrested on charges of manipulating corporate reporting systems in order to assist money laundering activities. Both the company and the country’s Ministry of Finance, are yet to issue a statement on the raids and the consequences.
It is reported that NAKA had been alerted about big sums of money being laundered at the gambling operator’s offices, as well as unaccounted funds being deposited in Tipos accounts and were being sent to private bank accounts. The fact that the transfers were made without any gambling activity led to the suspicions to arise.
It has also been reported that Barczi had been cooperating with an unnamed associate from the TIPOS organisation to allow the illegal transactions to take place. Barczi and Prelec will be charged with money laundering but did not reveal the exact amount stolen from the National Lottery operator.
Criminal Proceedings Launched
The police already confirmed it had searched into Tipos headquarters on Facebook.
“It is the initial phase of a criminal proceeding,” they added, without commenting any further. The Finance Ministry expressed its concerns about the situation to TASR newswire, but did not provide any further details.
In April 2018, Tipos closed 142 player accounts on suspicions of money laundering activities. According to the gambling operator, the illegal operations amounted to €260,000 while local reports claimed the amount was significantly higher – €20m.
Slovak Online Gambling Monopoly Abolished
On 29 January 2019, the Slovak parliament made amendments to the existing Gambling Act. For the first time, private companies, as well as online operators from other EU markets, could apply for licences to run online casino games in Slovakia. This way, the government put an end to the state monopoly.
Some of the proposed conditions for an online operator to receive a license include having a registered office in Slovakia or another EU member state, translating internet games into the Slovak language, monitoring the age and identity of gamblers and displaying ‘warning’ messages.
There will be various licence fees for online gambling depending on the type of game being played. For example, an online casino will be able to apply for a license at a €3m cost, while a dual licensing fee for online casino games and online betting will amount to €5m.