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Corsica France Gambling Organised crime

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Paris raid targets gambling dens allegedly run by organised-crime

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Stephan Agostini/AFP

Parisian police raided two buildings in the capital on Wednesday. They were home to gambling clubs believed to be run by gangsters from the French Mediterranean island of Corsica.

 


Following the raid, police arrested around 30 people on the island including four retired police officers and two actors from Mafiosa, a French television series.

The two establishments had been under investigation for more than a year by several special police units, including the Central Office Against Organised Crime.

Wednesday’s raid comes as part of a concentrated effort by the French authorities to crack down on gambling dens said to be run by organised crime.

At the end of May, another Parisian establishment, Le Cercle Haussmann in the 2nd arrondissement, was forced to close down and seven employees were charged with running an illegal gambling den.

And a judge in Marseille has just completed an investigation into the former Cercle Concorde in the city’s 9th arrondissement which was alleged to be the front for a money-laundering operation led by gangsters from the Corsica-Marseille region.

The French government handed over the running of these clubs to Corsicans at the end of World War II as a reward for their participation in the French resistance. It has now started an operation to clean up the gambling business.

Interest in gambling clubs has surged with the popularity of poker often endorsed by celebrities such as French singer Patrick Bruel and actor Bruno Solo.

While casinos have seen the number of clients decrease, following the introduction of anti-smoking laws and a general rejection of more traditional gambling games, turnover from gambling clubs has increased spectacularly.

Turnover, called the cagnotte, is calculated as a percentage of the total amount wagered by players. The latest figures which date from 2004 show the turnover from nine gaming clubs in Paris was eight million euros.