Belgian police involved in gambling scandal
Belgian authorities are investigating whether the local police used citizens’ information to gamble online.
Dozens of officers at the Antwerp Police Service are currently under investigation as it was revealed that they used citizens’ private information to open online gambling accounts. The local regulations establish that police officials cannot engage in those activities.
The information unveiled by local news media was brought to light after a probe into allegations that some police members were stealing money from illegal immigrants but then it was discovered that one of them had made multiple bank transactions with online gambling sites using that money.
After digging into the issue, it was revealed that there had been similar payments by at least 30 more officers at the Antwerp Police Service, who are believed that they engaged in online gambling activities from their desks at the police station, during work hours.
Peter Naessens, director of the Belgian Gaming Commission (BGC), said that the numbers indicate that some of the police officers gambled more than the average and suggested that the activity wasn’t entirely recreational. These officers could also face charges of identity fraud as they stole the names from other people.
On the other hand, a spokesperson for the Antwerp Police Service said that the investigation was still in its early stages and that the number of people who actually did it could be significantly smaller. Nevertheless, they said that the person who is found guilty must mace the consequences of breaking the law.
Moreover, Naessens said that this wasn’t just a problem in Antwerp and that the case could widen in other provinces, as other officials could be ignorant when it comes to gambling rules. “From the modus operandi and the experience we have gained since the start of the investigation we assume that this isn’t just a problem in Antwerp,” he said.
Earlier this year, the parliament discussed two bills that would present further restrictions to the gambling industry: the CDV and the Justice Minister proposed the prohibition on advertising gambling products on television before 8 pm, and ads completely blocked during live sports events in order to reduce gambling in the country. The CDV also discussed the possibility of increasing the minimum age for internet gambling from 18 to 21, and match it with the current regulations that casinos work with.