Belfast Telegraph

Police hit jackpot against crime gangs as gambling racket busted in Belfast and Lisburn

By Chris Kilpatrick

Detectives struck the jackpot when they seized this haul of illegal gaming machines and cash worth hundreds of thousands of pounds.

The seizure included three casino roulette tables valued at £300,000.

They also recovered more than 100 illegal gambling and gaming machines and more than £200,000 in cash during the operation.

All of the items were discovered during searches in Belfast and Lisburn.

They were seized as a result of a police clampdown on alleged illegal gambling.

The investigation, involving other agencies including the Gambling Commission and Immigration Enforcement, was carried out throughout the week.

Premises were searched at Shaftesbury Square and Lisburn Road in Belfast and Chapel Hill in Lisburn.

DUP MLA for Lagan Valley Jonathan Craig has described the haul as a blow for organised crime gangs.

The Policing Board member said it also reinforced the need for the National Crime Agency in Northern Ireland.

"The National Crime Agency can take civil legal action that can take assets away from these criminal gang leaders who are clearly benefiting from this behaviour," he said. "It absolutely reinforces the need for a National Crime Agency in Northern Ireland."

A 63-year-old man from Lurgan was arrested.

He has been quizzed on suspicion of managing and organising illegal gambling and money laundering.

He was later bailed to attend Musgrave police station in Belfast in March.

In addition, officers from Home Office Immigration Enforcement arrested a man in his 40s on suspicion of an immigration offence.

Detective Superintendent Andrea McMullan, from Organised Crime Branch, said: "Following a protracted investigation, detectives and experts from the Gambling Commission UK believe that casino and high stake gambling machines were being operated in these premises in breach of the relevant licences.

"In addition to the substantial amount of cash seized, we believe the three roulette machines have a value of £100,000 each.

"We seized a further 130 smaller gaming machines which are worth around £1,000 each.

"We have worked with district policing colleagues and partners in the Gambling Commission and Immigration Enforcement to stop what we believe were premises being used for illegal gambling and money laundering.

"This multi-agency operation should serve as a clear warning to those who think they can operate outside the law that police are determined they will not succeed.

"Our enquiries are continuing."

Mr Craig has also praised police for their success.

"It's great to see they are tackling illegal gambling in Northern Ireland," he said. "Organised crime gangs make a lot of money out of illegal gambling."

Belfast Telegraph


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