An alleged illegal casino operating out of a factory in Melbourne’s west has been exposed, with 21 people arrested and police seizing cash, drugs, and gaming equipment.
Victoria Police’s anti-gang Viper Taskforce were involved in the raid of an industrial area at Truganina on Friday which allegedly exposed the illegal high-end casino and unlicensed bar.
Police allege the casino, which required a minimum $8000 buy-in, had been operating weekly without a licence and that frequently this year as many as 50 patrons attended per night.
The alleged operator, a 35-year-old Truganina man, is expected to be charged on summons with a raft of offences, including unauthorised gambling and selling liquor without a licence.
The remaining patrons are expected to be charged with being inside an unauthorised gambling premises, consuming liquor on unlicensed premises, as well as drug possession offences.
Westgate Police Division Inspector Scott Colson said police will allege a range of criminal offences were committed at the alleged illegal casino, including drug trafficking and firearm possession.
“Our investigation concluded last night, as local detectives, the Viper Taskforce, State Liquor Unit and Public Order Response Team executed a warrant which led to the arrest of 21 people,” he said.
“When significant quantities of cash are seized from organised crime syndicates, we know this deals a hammer blow to their ability to fund further illegal activity.
“We’ve put a stop to a large amount of money ending up in the hands of the wrong people, which could have then been used for further criminal offending in the community.”
Police were supported by the State Liquor Unit and Victorian Gaming and Casino Control Commission who help enforce rules in the liquor and gambling industry.
Unauthorised gambling is a serious offence under the Gambling Regulation Act and carries a maximum penalty of two years imprisonment or a $192,000 fine, if convicted.
Victoria Police Senior Sargent Thomas McCowan told the Today Show outside the warehouse on Friday the activity was “known to be associated with organised crime”.
“That was a focus of our investigation, to disrupt this activity. This investigation has been going for several months and (the casino) is suspected of being open and operating for some time,” he said.
Anyone with information about illegal gambling is urged to contact Crime Stoppers.