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Venezuela – Tsar of casinos arrested

By - 20 September 2013

The so-called “Tsar of the Casinos” Domingo Aires Goncalves has been arrested at his home by local military police forces. Goncalves (51) was arrested last Thursday in Caracas. Known as the “Tsar of the Casinos” due to his involvement in a number of gaming establishments and sports betting shops in Venezuela, local police forces found a number of weapons as well as a considerable amount of cash on his property when Goncalves was taken into custody.

Goncalves has been charged with money laundering, tax evasion, contraband and the running of a number of illegal gaming establishments. According to local news portal Venezuela al dia Goncalves previously ran a number of bingo halls and large-scale casinos before Hugo Chávez came to power in 1999 and ordered their closure.

Gaming has been permitted in Venezuela since 1997 with the passing of the “The Regulation of Casinos, Bingo and Slot Machine Law,” which permitted casinos in five-star hotels with a minimum of 200 rooms. Bingo halls with slot machines were also permitted in three, four and five-star hotels. However, President Hugo Chavez, who passed away in March this year, waged an almost uninterrupted war on the industry during his Presidency. As well as launching a high profile crackdown on illegal gaming, which is still endemic in Venezuela, he was active in placing the industry out of the hands of local governments and subjecting them to more government control permanent closure.

According to local news sources Goncalves had made a fortune from drug running and other illegal activities for which he is now being investigated.

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