Gambling, media merge in coffee shop

A coffee shop owner and local newspaper publisher from Yiannitsa was being sought yesterday after police looking for illegal slot machines on Thursday stumbled on a vast illegal gambling network in the central Macedonian town. Giorgos Tekteridis, who evaded arrest, is believed to have worked as the northern Greece agent for foreign betting shops that ran Internet gambling sites. Detectives from the Finance Ministry’s Financial Crime Squad (SDOE) suspect that Tekteridis had created his own network of agents who brought in bets, submitted by fax or over the Internet. The gambling ring ran along the lines of the state OPAP football and basketball betting system but offered much higher returns, police said. A raid on Tekteridis’s coffee shop – which SDOE officials initially suspected of hosting illegal slot machines – on Thursday revealed a secret room equipped with two computers and a fax machine. An investigation of the computer archives has revealed the particulars of hundreds of punters, police sources said yesterday. SDOE officials also discovered a bricked-up safe containing 1 million euros (340.75 million drachmas) in cash, bank checks for a total of 700,000 euros and 164,000 dollars, bank books showing savings of 600,000 marks and 86,000 dollars, a pistol and a canister of anesthetic spray. Late on Thursday, the raid took a political twist with TV journalist Makis Triandafyllopoulos claiming that Tekteridis was linked to Macedonia-Thrace Minister Giorgos Paschalidis. Paschalidis angrily denied this yesterday. Earlier this year, Triandafyllopoulos revealed that PASOK MP Alexandros Chryssanthakopoulos, chairman of a parliamentary committee against illegal gambling, frequented illegal slot machine parlors.

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