Huge Italian Gambling Ring Busted – 41 Arrested, €2 Billion Seized

A giant illegal Italian gambling ring has been busted, with the Anti-Mafia Police arresting 41 people and seizing €2 billion. They also seized 82 online gambling sites and froze assets for 11 companies in Austria, Malta, Romania and Spain.

Among the charges leveled at the group include money laundering and using an international scheme to circumvent the country’s online gambling laws.

The court Magistrate in charge of the case, “Ndrangheta,” a major Italian crime organization, used the the internet gambling ring to launder money and control their region.

Perhaps the biggest name among the indicted is BetUniQ CEO Mario “Mariolino” Gennaro, who’s been tied to the Ndrangheta in the past. BetUniQ was launched in 2010 after obtaining licensing from the Malta Gaming Authority. It’s now believed that BetUniqQ has merely been used as a way to funnel illegal funds back to the Ndrangheta for the past five years. Furthermore, Malta was chosen as a licensing location because the Ndrangheta wanted to avoid suspicion and Italy’s strict anti-mafia laws.

Other big entities involved in this bust include People’s S.R.L. and Microgame S.P.A, both of which actually had licenses to operate in Italy. People’s S.R.L. operates the People’s Network which is the country’s third-largest online poker operation.

Microgame, which is owned by the Texas Pacific Group and Monitor Clipper Partners may be even larger with over 650,000 gaming accounts and 130 different brands. In all, 11 companies were involved in the bust that’s one of the largest gambling-related stings in history. Immediately after the sting, many Italian online gamblers were unable to cash out their money.

Earlier this year we reported that the Italian government has been taking a closer look at legal gambling, for fear that it was funding mafia activities. However, this report was mainly about the land-based slot machines throughout the country that are used to fund mob activity. It now appears that iGaming is just as prevalent if not more widespread among Italian mobsters.

In any case, this is the second big bust in 2015. Back in March, 13 members of the Valle’s clan were arrested for using slot machines to launder money. They would claim huge profits from the slot machines to hide their profits from loansharking and money laundering. Francesco Valle and his son, Fortunato, were given the longest sentence of the Valle clan, drawing 24 years in prison.