NEWS

Casinos level the tables

Greeks traditionally see in the New Year with games of chance, «for good luck,» either with card games at home or, increasingly, at casinos. Lady Luck doesn’t smile at everyone, of course, and there have always been those willing to take matters into their own hands. Microscopic laser scanners hidden in cell phones, marked decks of cards and corrupt dealers are just some of the means known to have cost the casinos several million euros and have given the perpetrators several years behind bars. The most impressive recent cases have occurred abroad, but eight years ago, Greek gamblers made allegations that the tables at a local casino had been rigged. «Recently there have been no allegations of rigged results. It is difficult to get around current security regulations,» said a high-ranking officer at Attica Security Police’s gambling inspection department. «Ever since the casino was privatized and the ‘Nevada procedures’ introduced, there have been no incidents. In the old days, however, not even basic precautions were taken,» said the head of security at the Mont Parnes Casino, Sotiris Iliopoulos. Allegations by a gambler at a Greek casino that roulette balls were being guided by magnetic fields and directed by computers led to a judicial investigation, but no proof was found. At the end of the 1990s, there were revelations that at another Greek casino, roulette tables had been found to have had some of their number slots fixed so as to prevent the balls from stopping on them. According to experts in the sector, phenomena such as these are no longer found at Greek casinos where strict security rules are in force and the security personnel has been beefed up. «Everything operates according to procedures. Every staff member involved in the internal procedures is monitored by superiors and accompanied by two or three colleagues. For activities such as transporting money, buying chips and making deposits, the closed-circuit television system is used,» said Iliopoulos. As for the operation of the roulette wheel, Iliopoulos said that when not in use, it is sealed in such a way that any attempt to interfere with it is immediately detected. He said casinos owned by major private firms record specific profits and have no incentive to become involved in illegal activities. Gambling fraud rife Gambling fraud remains rife in Greece, according to police data. Illegal card games and dice halls (apartments rented solely for the purpose of gambling activities) are still widespread, although the number of cases brought to justice is far lower than in the past. Slot machines are also on their way back again, despite the enactment of a law in 2002. A senior Attica Security official said that during the holidays, illegal dice games are usually on the rise, while the number of card game club activities is unchanged. Eight cases of illegal dice games have been investigated since the beginning of the year, five of them in December alone. As for on-line gambling, the situation is apparently out of control, according to the Electronic Crime department director, Manolis Sfakianakis. Most allegations concern credit card fraud at the expense of people who tried their luck on-line. «Internet casinos are based on islands in the Pacific and are not subject to our laws,» he said.