Spanish authorities have dismantled a criminal network involved in manipulating electronic roulette games throughout the nation.

Posted on: July 17, 2023, 07:50h. 

Last updated on: July 17, 2023, 07:50h.

Using a modified drill and some wire, a criminal gang in Spain managed to manipulate electronic roulette games in various gambling halls across the country. After successfully carrying out multiple heists without being caught, the group’s luck has finally run out.

A police officer in Spain stands next to his vehicle
A police officer in Spain stands next to his vehicle. A coordinated effort involving Interpol has led to the arrest of four people who had been stealing from casinos around the country. (Image: Tele Madrid)

Agents with Spain’s National Police, in collaboration with the Basque Region’s Ertzaintza police force, have successfully dismantled the group. They have made several arrests related to the theft of €417,000 (US$468,082) in three months by manipulating gaming tables.

Specifically, four individuals were apprehended, three in Madrid and one in Malaga, with two others currently under investigation in Bilbao. This crackdown is the result of a six-month investigation that extended all the way to Austria.

Follow the Bouncing Ball

This past January, the Ertzaintza discovered that several men had stolen €70,000 (US$78,638) from two gambling halls using this scheme. The police force then shared images of the culprits with Spain’s National Police.

It didn’t take long for a connection to be made. The National Police identified two of the individuals as suspects in similar heists that had occurred throughout the country.

While Spanish law enforcement made the arrests, a lot of credit goes to Interpol. The criminal group had reportedly been operating in the country for years and potentially across Europe. Interpol had already issued several active red notices for some of the individuals involved.

When carrying out their scams, the organization members would survey their target property, whether it be a casino, slot parlor, or another venue, to assess the layout and security and identify places with more relaxed policies.

Afterwards, they would gain access to the venues using fake IDs. Once inside, each member had an assigned role, with two or three providing distractions for the employees while another focused on the machine.

This individual was responsible for accessing the roulette machine. They achieved this by drilling a hole in the dome and inserting a metal object, like a wire or semi-rigid rod. This allowed them to stop the ball on a specific number for which they had already placed a bet.

Long Run Comes To An End

In video roulette, there is no need for a dealer. In some versions, there is a traditional roulette wheel underneath the dome that is digitally connected to the machine. When the wheel stops spinning, the location is sent to the machine’s controls, where the players’ bets are registered.

The arrests are a result of the group’s activity over the past three months. However, investigators believe that these are the same individuals who have carried out similar scams at other casinos across Europe.

Interpol’s involvement in the investigation indicates that the group had gone international. The members face allegations of executing a similar scam at an Austrian casino, earning €117,000 (US$131,332). Other investigations are still ongoing.

The gang supposedly operated for years without being caught, although the full extent of their activities remains unknown. Many gambling venues prefer to keep their vulnerabilities hidden, so numerous cases may have gone unreported.

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