The Gambling Regulatory Authority seized 54 illegal gaming machines in a recent nationwide raid. This is the second successful move carried out by the Authority in the last four months to combat this type of illegal gambling.
Seized were especially the so-called mining machines and quiz machines. The majority were taken based on searches carried out by inspectors of the Office for the Regulation of Gambling (URHH). “As these gaming machines have not been issued or granted a valid licence, we consider them illegal. Our staff actively monitor these machines’ occurrence; most of them have been seized due to their diligent work. Some have also been seized because of complaints from the players,” said general director URHH, Dávid Lenčéš.
The recent seizures were carried out in all regions in accordance with § 81 article 11 of the Gambling Act in cooperation with the police force. According to the director general of the URHH, the role of the police officers was to maintain public order and security of the employees as public officials, as not every seizure went smoothly. “It has happened in the past that the office staff has faced physical attacks or had to remove some equipment by professional locksmiths. Illegal operators sometimes try to make the seizure impossible by fixing machines firmly against the floor or the wall.”
According to the Gambling Act, small operators, such as pubs, cannot operate gaming machines. The URHH must license each gaming machine since it is the only official body authorised to issue a licence.
However, some speculators try to bypass the law by operating machines that have been “authorised” by other entities or posing as knowledge competitions or cryptocurrency mining machines. In each case, URHH carefully investigates whether a gambling game is taking place on the device, regardless of its name, visual elements, or type of device.
The most significant number of machines was seized in the Bratislava Self-Governing Region, representing half of all. Nine machines were held in the Košice Region, 8 in the Banská Bystrica Region, 7 in the Nitra Region, 2 in the Žilina Region and 1 in the Prešov Region. Among the 54 machines seized nationwide, the majority were cryptocurrency mining.
A “mining machine” is a device that pretends to be used to mine cryptocurrencies, and a “quiz machine” seems to be a knowledge game. In both cases, the game played on these machines fulfils the characteristics of a gambling game. However, on these gambling games, the Authority is not granted an individual licence; if someone is operating them without a licence, it is undoubtedly an illegal activity.
Operating gambling without an issued licence is prohibited in Slovakia.
In many cases, these were premises where illegal technical equipment had been seized. “Their operators are unteachable, as they operate illegal machines again despite previous experience. On the other hand, there are more and more machines whose owners are persuaded by the vision of profit and place unlicensed machines on their premises. According to § 95 article 2 point h) of the Gambling Act, such operators are liable to a fine between 20 000 EUR and 250 000 EUR,” said Dávid Lenčéš. The penalty of up to 500 000 EUR faces the owners of the gambling machines if it is proven that they are operating gambling without an individual licence or a general licence. The sealed gambling machines have been taken to the URHH warehouse, from where they will go to further proceedings.