Slovakian Tax Authorities Raid ‘Quiz Machine’ Gambling Hubs in Major Crackdown Operation

Posted on: July 5, 2018, 10:27h. 

Last updated on: July 5, 2018, 10:27h.

Slovakian tax authorities have raided one hundred gaming venues, as the country executes a massive crackdown on illegal gambling machines.

Slovakian gambling
Eastern euro versions of slot machines — often involving game show-like questions for players to answer correctly to win cash — were seized by Slovakian authorities last week. (Source: Francis Machines Solutions)

It took two days for 180 Slovakian Financial Administration (SFA) comptrollers — accompanied by customs officers –to carry out “Diamant Operation,” as the the sting was dubbed. The net result was the seizure of five of the so-called “quiz machines” — so-called because players answer Jeopardy-esque questions to win cash — as well as financial books from a number of raided venues.

Officials also confiscated and sealed off 75 other machines to test them for legality; no simple task, according to the department head.

“It wasn’t an easy action,” SFA criminal investigator Ludovit Mako in a press release. ” In some facilities, the gambling machine was turned off during the investigation, while in the others, there were missing internet connections and power supplies.”

If authorities can eventually prove that the machines have been used illegally, their operators could be facing stiff fines. And if what they find in the machines doesn’t match up with the financial records that accompany them, criminal charges could be filed as well.

Underage Gamblers Alleged

Can machines that pose simple quiz questions be considered illegal gambling? Slovakian authorities seem to think so, especially in light of new gambling laws that were passed in the country earlier this year.

Authorities acted on a tip that the machines weren’t just being used for quizzes. Not only were they allegedly being operated for gambling purposes, but officials say they believe that players under the age of 18 were allowed access to the gaming devices.

There are an estimated 800 such machines in Slovakia, a country nestled in Central Europe between Austria, Ukraine, Poland,  Hungary, and the Czech Republic. While local law stipulates that the machine servers be located within the country, it seems many are instead illegally operating outside of the country’s borders.

Slovakian regulators have shown little tolerance for such illicit practices. Last year, they handed down a total of 210 fines worth €378,660 ($USD 441,367), a significant escalation from the 57 fines that were issued just the year before.

Global Rash of Raids

Slovakia isn’t the only country getting bitten by police stings: from Asia to North America, police are keeping busy busting up illegal operations.

In Hong Kong, dozens were arrested and almost $10 million worth of bets were seized as police  cracked down on an alleged World Cup bookmaking operation last month. And earlier this week, another similar World Cup betting operation was broken up by authorities in Kuala Lumpur.

Meanwhile, the issue of so-called “games of skill” continues to cause controversy in Colorado, where a local women was arrested and her games seized for operating an “adult arcade”.

Those who are supposed to be upholding the law haven’t been immune to police raids, either. Government offices at the Korean Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism were raided in March, accused of “industrial-scale nepotism” in operating a state-owned casino.