A Sydney cafe which was operating as an illegal gambling den has just been raided.
It doesn't take too much imagination to think that if this sort of thing happens in bricks and mortar premise, it also happens in the online gambling world.
I'm sure Gambling911.com would agree. For punters its a better bet to stick to brands and Internet portals that they know and trust, and gamble where its legal. Known entities of course include World Poker Tour, BetUS.com, PartyGaming, Virgin Games, Doyle's Room, PKR, Gambling911 and our Media Man Australia.
Just as not all pokies are the same, and there's strong rumours of a few dodgy and unregulated ones out there, not to mention last months Da Vinci Diamonds allegedly "rigged" machines in Canada (favoring punters in that case), not all online casinos are "above board". As always its a case of buyer beware.
Illegal gambling dens in Australia go back past the late George Freeman's time, as documented on Network Nine Australia's 'Underbelly" smash hit TV series.
*the writers' (Greg Tingle's) late grandfather, Eric Frazer Cameron Tingle was a famous Australian SP Bookmaker who used his barber shop at Newport Beach as a front. The premises also had classic pokies that accepted 10 cent coins! Tingle's friends, associates and clientele also included the late, great, Big Tim "Earthquake" Bristow. It's unknown if the Newport Beach premise was licensed to run pokies.
EXCLUSIVE: INSPECTORS swooping on a suburban cafe during the morning coffee rush found nine illegal gambling machines, including five pokies.
Haberfield locals sipped lattes out the front, oblivious to the secret back room set up to look like a legitimate club.
Gaming Minister Kevin Greene said the machines confiscated in last month's raid would be destroyed.
He warned punters against trying for easy money in dodgy gambling dens.
"NSW laws heavily regulate poker machine numbers, usage and gaming safety so that people who choose to use them know they're getting the same chances as everyone else,'' he said.
''For instance, every one of the licensed machines in NSW is connected to a central monitoring system that ensures they work as they are supposed to.
"Even ignoring the illegal nature of backroom gaming dens, they have no such protections in place, and people gambling there illegally are risking everything from their wallet's contents to their own safety when they get involved.''
Mr Greene said the machines were spotted by a sharp-eyed council food inspector, who reported them to the NSW Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing. "The air-conditioned room was brazenly set up like a gaming room, with machines spaced evenly in a row and a stool in front of each one and sports memorabilia on the walls,'' Mr Greene said.
He said anyone possessing, operating or trading gambling machines must be licensed.
"While reports of illegal gaming machines are rare, this sort of behaviour will not be tolerated," he said.
"We also have strict, responsible gambling laws to minimise the harm associated with problem gambling.''
Investigations of the coffee-shop casino continue. Anyone found guilty could face fines of up to $1100 and/or 12 months in jail.
The secret gambling den was empty of punters at the time of the late-morning raid. (Credit: The Sydney Morning Herald)