Cheltenham Bookies are being used to launder money, according to reports in the Gloucestershire Echo, and HappyBet Director, Oliver Frohlich is gunned down outside his office in Frankfurt.
The Gloucestershire Echo in the UK have revealed that drug dealers, and other criminals, are using Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs) in Cheltenham bookmakers as a way to launder ‘dirty’ money.
Employees have been warned to keep a look out for customers who are pounding the machines with wads of cash, but as one unnamed employee was quoted as saying in the Echo, “Criminals don’t have a sign on them to say they are criminals.”
This request to keep a special look out for increased FOBT activity is particularly interesting when you consider the claims around Christmas time that Betfred employees were told that the size of their pay packets would depend on the success or failure of FOBTs.
To tell or not to tell…that is the question.
It’s reported that frequenters of the UK Bookmakers spent £46bn on the FOBTs last year, an increase of 50%, in the past four years.
Gary Dale, manager at David James Racing, in Gloucester, told the Echo: “We are well aware of money being laundered on the machines, but it is extremely difficult to police.
“How can you tell if someone is using the machines to launder cash? You can’t really.
“But the machines are extremely profitable. Betting shops would close if not for the money made in these machines, simple as that.”
A spokesman for Gloucestershire police told the Echo: “We are aware gambling can be used as a means of laundering money and remain vigilant to such activity coming to light in this county.
“Criminals have come up with many ingenious ways to launder money in the past but we have intelligence systems in place to pick up on any new trends and will take action where necessary.”
The Echo didn’t reveal the names of any of the bookmakers involved in the money laundering claims.
Labour to Force Vote
The Labour government is still trying its best to rid the high streets of the FOBTs, this time with a move to force a vote in Parliament that will give local councils the power to ban the machines from the retail outlets.
The Labour leader, Ed Miliband, said the machines were spreading ‘like an epidemic,’ and has given his support to the anti-gambling lobbyists should his band of merry men, and women, regain the reins of the country.
Labour plans to use the opposition day debate in the Commons to press the coalition government on the matter.
Labour lays the blame on the rise of these machines firmly at the door of the current government. Not so, says Culture Minister Helen Grant who believes the problem stems from the previous Labour government.
“In 2000, these machines did not exist,” she said. “By the time of the last general election there were over 30,000.”
Everyone now waits with baited breath over the results of a study on the addictive nature of the machines that is being created by the current government.
HappyBet Director Gunned Down
Oliver Frohlich, the 50-year old Director of the German sports betting outfit HappyBet, as been found dead outside his offices in the Sachsenhausen district of Frankfurt.
Reports surfacing from the German press reveal that local residents alerted the police after finding the body. He was declared dead on the scene after receiving two gunshots to the head.
Although gun-casings were found at the scene, there is no sign of a murder weapon, and so far nobody has come forward to say they heard gunshots prompting officials to suspect that a silencer was used.
The local police force are offering a €5,000 reward for any information on the killing that the rumor mill believes to be ‘execution’ style. Frohlich was due to meet an unnamed customer at the time of his death. He was found dead by the door of his BMW, at the back of his offices.
Frohlich, a philanthropist at heart, was a well-respected member of the community who ran his sports betting company with his brother Michael. HappyBet is a Malta-licensed company that sponsors the German Bundesliga club Bayer Leverkusen.
Following his death the company issued the following statement: –
“The employees of the companies in the HappyBet group are stunned & shocked by the sudden & unexpected death of Mr. Frohlich. We mourn especially with his family. Oliver F. has made a vital contribution to the business & shaped the entrepreneurial operation of HappyBet sports betting.”