Slot machines seized in Paphos raid - Wednesday 13th of December 2006

OVER 20 illegal slot machines were confiscated on Monday night by police in the Paphos district.

According to police reports, the Paphos Police Department found 22 of these machines at five different locations, and also took a sum of nearly £2,000 worth of illegal earnings made from the fruit machines.

The problem in the region appears to be widespread, where allegedly the machines can be found at hairdressing studios, coffee shops and even newsagents.

Chief of the Paphos Police Department, Lambros Themistocleous, stated that these machines are classed as illegal. It is in fact not permitted to own, import or take earnings from the operation of these machines.

Themistocleous claimed that the police were not responsible for how the machines found their way to Cyprus. He did, however, identify a problem in actually eradicating these devices.

“The issue here is that the different parts are imported to Cyprus separately and the machines are actually assembled here,? he said.

With recent official reports published this week confirming their support to the creation of up to five casinos on the island, it appears that small illegal casinos in the form of slot machines already exist, and this phenomenon is not exclusive to the Paphos region.

“These so-called fruit machines are not simply found in Paphos, and nor can they be found much more frequently in our area, the problem is throughout Cyprus,? Themistocleous said.

This new incident is set to rekindle the debate on to what extent gambling is rife in Cypriot society. A report published earlier this year by the Association for Confronting Social Problems (SAKOP) found that one in 10 youths aged 12 to 17 spent £26 to £75 per month on betting, while the average amount spent within that age group is £14 per month

The police have said that they are carrying out an investigation on the owners of the shops in which the slot machines were found.

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