Special forces raided illegal poker room
The vast majority of the poker world is eagerly awaiting a return to normality and open cardrooms. However, authorities around the globe have been cracking down on illegal poker room events and underground casinos.
— Joanna Lillis (@joannalillis) April 27, 2020
Strict laws enacted over a decade ago in the former Soviet state made it a struggle for poker players and gamblers alike to indulge their pastime.
Throw in coronavirus lockdown rules and the authorities were never likely to go easy on those breaking them.
A tip-off led to last weekend’s raid (seen in the clip below) in Almaty by the Berkut special forces unit. Observers described it as a ‘large-scale operation’ to ‘curb the illegal activities of a gambling establishment’.
“During the search events in the poker room with an area of more than 1,000 square meters, six gaming tables for poker and American roulette, a lot of playing cards and chips, as well as large-scale proceeds from illegal activities were found and seized,” reported the local Kazakh tengrinews.kz.
More than 30 customers and staff were arrested during the bust in the poker room. There are reports that the poker room used a’ special access system’. Only allowed regular customers to enter the illegal gambling den.
If you know nothing of poker and gambling in Kazakhstan, consider that prior to the laws passed in 2007 the country boasted 150 casinos. 52 of them in the largest Kazakh city, Almaty, home to this week’s police raid.
The enforced move to special zones catering to rich gamblers led to a massive increase in illegal underground operations.
The Russian gambling crackdown
The same thing happened in Russia around the same time. There the effect was even worse, with cockfighting and even rat racing found at one illegal underground gaming spot.
In 2018 Russian police arrested more than 100 members of a criminal gang who were responsible for running at least 15 illegal casinos in Moscow.
Bringing in hundreds of millions of roubles a month, the men behind the network lived ‘a lavish lifestyle’ according to prosecutors. They purchased ‘top-tier real state, as well as expensive cars and other luxury items’.
In an embarrassing twist, one of the underground casinos operated by “gambling king” Anton Bazhanov was found to be in the North Korean embassy in Moscow.
It also operated as an online casino. Moreovever, there are rumors that it had its own accountants, financiers, security services, and security guards.
This year a member of President Putin’s ruling party was booted out after police raided one of his homes and discovered an illegal casino.
Oleg Kalyadin denied any knowledge of the underground den after police raided the apartment. The forces confiscated a dozen slot machines and poker and roulette tables after breaking down the door.
— 78 | НОВОСТИ (@good78news) February 8, 2020
53 poker players in a poker room fined for fluting social distancing laws in the Netherlands
Back in the here and now, the coronavirus lockdown that has seen Vegas, Macau and almost every other poker and gambling hotspot closed didn’t worry 53 poker players in the Netherlands.
The social distancing-breaking group had traveled from all over the country to Zaandam for a tournament held in a commercial building in the North Holland city.
Once again a tip-off led to a police operation, involving local police, colleagues from Amsterdam, the Landelijke Eenheid national division, and the Marechaussee military branch, according to press reports.
The authorities fined all participants of the illegal tournament €390 each. Two of the officers involved reportedly receiving minor injuries during the raid.
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