Connections German Sportsbook Tipster Investigated for Potential Links to Illegal Gambling and Organized Crime

At the close of last year, retail and digital sports betting operator Tipster secured a five-year license renewal in Germany. However, a police investigation into possible tax evasion, money laundering and links to organized crime could potentially invalidate the license.

Nearly 900 German police officers led raids against Tipster in several states on Thursday, reported media outlet Tagesschau. The State Criminal Police Office of North Rhine-Westphalia, which spearheaded the raid, declared that its operation included over 100 search warrants and six arrest warrants.

The raids were focused on Tipster’s activities, prompting legislator Ulrich Mäurer to state, “I told you so.” The senator from Bremen in Lower Saxony had recently asserted that sportsbooks were havens for unlawful activity.

Wide-Ranging Searches Across Europe

Investigators also searched other locations across Germany and Europe. These raids included German cities like Bremen, Berlin, Saxony and Bavaria, as well as Malta and Croatia. Police in Cologne, Brühl and other cities have already apprehended six primary suspects, between the ages of 34 and 60, all alleged to be Tipster executives.

The investigation began two and a half years ago. Tipster’s management is accused of forming a criminal organization, laundering money, engaging in illegal gambling and not declaring employment.

Police operations are still in progress. So far, they have raided over 100 homes, betting shops and other businesses. They are also trying to access a secure vault in the Cologne office, where the company’s servers are believed to be stored.

The police have seized evidence, as well as cash and valuables, and more confiscations and arrests are expected. Germany’s State Criminal Police Office noted that the searches are part of an effort to seize tens of millions of euros in illegally-obtained revenue.

The public prosecutor’s office and police initially did not reveal which specific allegations led to the raids. Nevertheless, it is evident from the different law enforcement departments involved. In addition to the officers and prosecutors from Germany’s Central Office for Organized Crime, officers from the North Rhine-Westphalia financial investigation department and customs officials also participated.

Examining the Possibilities

It is uncertain what may have caused law enforcement to suspect Tipster’s involvement in illegal activity. When Mäurer delivered his tirade last summer, he denounced all sports betting operators as simply fronts for money laundering.

In response, all Bremen-based sports betting operators closed down to permit a full investigation. It is possible that investigators discovered something during this period linking to the ongoing inquiry.

Germany has been attempting to advance its sports betting and online gaming industries for the past couple of years, but progress has been slower than they hoped. There are still licensing issues and violations that have some lawmakers questioning the gambling expansion. If the claims against Tipster are confirmed, it will be a major setback for the operators who abide by the law.