Illegal Gambling Targeted by Slovak Government
The Financial Administration of Slovakia is cracking down on illegal gambling. During the Diamant operation on June 28-29, over 180 comptrollers investigated more than 100 gambling facilities across Slovakia and seized five quiz machines. They also sealed 75 gaming machines (slots) and confiscated accounting documents of 14 companies.
Last month’s efforts are the biggest ever by the authorities to curb illegal gambling activities. It aims to reveal loopholes in the gambling law adopted earlier this year, which are being exploited by criminals in the industry.
The authorities had to try all machines before categorizing them. However, some facilities had either switched off the machines or had missing power supplies or internet connections which made the comptrollers’ job difficult.
The customs officers sealed several dozen facilities and secured others for a further investigation. Over 800 quiz machines are currently operational, mostly registered in Zilina, Trnava, and Bratislava.
The Financial Administration wants to label quiz machines as gambling. The quiz machine servers are located outside Slovakia. The gambling law makes it mandatory for a company to have their servers located in the state. The authorities also suspect that people under the age of 18 were not prevented from gambling at several facilities.
To strengthen their argument, they have sent the machines for examination at the Technical Testing Institute. If the machines are proven to be used in gambling, the authorities will levy high fines on the facilities which use them.
Accounting books of four companies which were operating quiz machines pertaining to 2017 and 2018 have been confiscated while books of 2018 from other facilities have been taken into custody.
The tax officers will now investigate VAT and corporate income tax evasion by these facilities. The operators could face criminal charges if the Financial Administration finds irregularities in their accounting books.
The number of fines imposed on the industry has increased in 2017. Last year a total of 210 fines totaling over 378,660 euros were imposed on the industry. In 2016, the number of fines was 57, while in 2015, only ten fines had been levied.
Illegal gambling in Slovakia can be a result of excessive prohibition by the government, as some sources in the gambling industry believe. They suggest that criminal groups are always a step ahead of the comptrollers who erase software and data from machines remotely and thereby avoid fines.
The newest draft of the gambling law in Slovakia intends to curb illegal gambling in the country with particular focus on online gaming. The taxes paid by operators were reduced from 27 percent to 23 percent, but the minimum number of devices in the gaming halls were increased from 5 to 12.