Odds shorten for illicit gamblers

Almost 50 people have been arrested in Athens over the last two weeks for illegal gambling, which authorities estimate to be worth millions of euros each year and is particularly prevalent during the Christmas and New Year holidays. Since the beginning of the month, police have been conducting raids on cafes and illegal card-playing clubs, which have led to more than 45 suspects being taken into custody in just the last 12 days. One raid on a cafe in Piraeus led to 50,000 euros being seized. According records kept by the police, between 200,000 and 400,000 euros in cash have been seized each year in recent times as a result of raids on illegal gamblers. But police sources told Kathimerini that they believe this is only the tip of the iceberg as serious gamblers often do not bring any cash to card games and the money they bet is recorded mentally. It is not just illegal card games that authorities are trying to clamp down on. Sources said that many Internet cafes run electronic slot machines, which are illegal, and that there are four known illegal gambling dens in Attica where visitors play craps. The gamblers are trying to stay one step ahead of the police. Officers who raided a cafe in Kypseli, near central Athens, a few days ago found a hidden room with three computers that were being used to play electronic slots. To access the secret room, officers pulled on a statue that had a wire attached to it. Kypseli and nearby Omonia are the areas of Athens with the most illegal gambling dens, according to sources. Since the start of the year, police have seized almost 1,100 slot machines and computers and have arrested 320 people on suspicion of illegal gambling.

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