Melbourne Factory Raided by Police For Illegal Casino
Australian police raided an illegal casino in a factory in Melbourne last week. During the raid, the police seized cash, drugs and pokie machines. In the raid on Mickey’s Poker Room, as the unlicensed casino was called, 21 people were arrested. Amongst the arrested suspects was the 35-year-old owner of the casino.
According to the local police, visitors of the establishment had to pay a buy-in of a minimum of AU$ 8,000 (NZ$ 8,680) to be allowed entrance to the high stakes poker room and the rest of the casino. Both pokies and table games were offered at the venue.
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The raid took place in the western part of Melbourne. The Viper Taskforce of the state police was deployed to fulfil the raid, with local authorities emphasising the difficulty of this investigation that was conducted during months. The illegal casino operated from a factory on an industrial estate. According to police, Mickey’s Poker Room also had an unlicensed bar that served alcoholic beverages. The venue was open on a weekly basis with reportedly 50 visitors per night playing both poker and pokie machines. According to Sergeant Thomas McCowan, the illegal gambling venue is also closely associated with other forms of organised crime:
That was the focus of our investigation. The investigation has been going on for several months, but the illegal casino is suspected to have been open for a long time. We have prevented a large amount of money from ending up in the hands of the wrong people, which could then have been used for further criminal activity in the community.
Brigadier General Thomas McCowan
Police have received support from the state’s Liquor Unit and the Victorian Gaming and Casino Control Commission (VGCCC) in the investigation and raid. Earlier this year, the VGCCC the Crown Casino Melbourne was fined hundreds of millions of dollars. The fine was given due to lacking measures to prevent money-laundering by the only legal casino in the city of Melbourne.
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Combating Organised Crime
Detective Inspector Scott Colson reports that a series of criminal offences have been committed by the suspects with large amounts of cash having been seized; although there is no mention of how much money is involved. In any case, according to Colson, the outcome of the raid must have been a “blow” to the financing of illegal activities. Colson emphasises that the money found during the raid is used for different criminal activities. Conducting unauthorised gambling in Victoria carries a penalty of two years jail or a $192,000 (NZ$ 208,000) fine. Gambling is allowed in Australia as long as the providers are licensed. This applies both to offering land based gambling and to online casinos.
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