Illegal Gambling Machines Seized - Tuesday 12th of December 2006

ELEVEN slot machines have been seized from taxi offices and takeaways in a swoop on illegal gambling.

Officials from the Gambling Commission with police officers, customs officials and Burnley Borough Council officers raided seven businesses across the borough last week after tip-offs that machines were being supplied and operated illegally. The machines had no permits and many had jackpots of £25, but current laws dictate that these machines can only be situated in pubs, amusement arcades and clubs that hold valid permits.

Gambling Commission inspector Pippa Coombes said: "We are determined to crack down on the suppliers and operators of these illegal machines and are grateful to Pennine Police and Burnley Borough Council for their support.

"The illegal supply of gaming machines is a key concern to the Gambling Commission, the police, and local authorities nationally. Multi-agency operations like the one in Burnley are proving to be crucial in targeting uncertified suppliers of illegal gaming machines."

The new Gambling Act comes into force next year and gives new powers to the Gambling Commission to fine operators and to prosecute illegal gambling.

She continued: "This operation took place under the existing laws, but it demonstrates the vigour with which we will use our powers in future.

"The protection of children and vulnerable people is a major concern for the commission. Illegal gaming machines are often situated in premises such as chip shops and takeaways which are frequented by children.

"Additionally, these machines are unlicensed and unregulated and may have had their mechanisms tampered with and this puts the public at risk of being ripped off."

Coun. Charlie Bullas, the councils Executive member for community safety, said: "This enforcement action was necessary in order to halt the spread of illegally sited gaming machines in the borough and to fully support the principles of the new legislation."

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