State Police have arrested some 115 people following a seven-month investigation into illegal gambling and sports betting in Albania.
Gambling was banned in the country in January 2019 but a number of operators went underground, continuing to offer sports betting, lottery and other forms of gambling, illicitly. The operation was carried out by police during the Europa League football games and they seized significant amounts of money, computers, weapons, mobile phones and other assets.
Among those arrested are administrators and managers of gambling venues, some of which owned gambling businesses before the nationwide ban. Gramoz Murataj, Ervin Frasheri, Isuf Tato, Igli Oboni, Elvis Mulaj, Denis Kysko and Erdian Myftari are all being held in custody and it is reported that Murataj was one of the main conspirators.
Entitled “Fate of the Games”, the operation was carried out by the State Police in collaboration with local police directorates in Tirana, Elbasan, Berat, Lezha, Korca, Fier, Durres, and Shkoder. 115 were arrested, 24 were released and two have been declared wanted.
It has been reported that the police acted on information received from citizens regarding the organization of unlicensed lotteries and sports betting. Once legal and public betting parlours were simply brought behind closed doors when the ban on gambling came into force with employees working illegally and conducting unlawful activities.
Those arrested face charges of illegal and unlicensed betting and gambling, revenue concealment and money laundering. If convicted, they could receive sentences of between seven and 15 years in prison.
The police have said that the operation is ongoing throughout the country to identify any attempts to engage in illegal gambling activity.