Iran Busts UK-Linked Massive Online Gambling Ring

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The Iranian Intelligence Ministry announced on Saturday the thorough dismantling of what it described as the most vast and systematic online gambling and betting syndicate aimed at the country’s population. The operation in question, Nitro Bet, reportedly functioned with the unspoken consent of the United Kingdom, posing significant moral and legal challenges within the jurisdiction of Iran.

In pointed criticisms, the ministry accused the British government of deliberately overlooking the activities of what they termed a “London-based Mafia network.” Despite the shadowy operations of Nitro Bet, which is not recognized as an active online gambling entity in the UK, Iran claims that the network had been contributing substantial tax revenues to the British state through its illicit activities—a claim that adds layers of international intrigue and allegations of governmental complicity.

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Nitro Bet’s alleged complicity in money laundering serves as the backdrop for these serious accusations, asserting that Britain has essentially facilitated these criminal endeavors. A clandestine game of subterfuge against Islamic law, the online betting entity leveraged an expansive network of approximately 35,000 domestic bank accounts and more than a thousand payment gateways in its operations. Reminiscent of tactics employed within the Chinese black market, Nitro Bet seemingly utilized “farmer accounts” acquired through agents embedded within Iran to siphon off gambling proceeds discreetly.

Despite international financial sanctions, movement of funds from Iranian accounts to Western entities is not prohibited, highlighting the financial complexities of enforcing gambling restrictions across borders. The crackdown on Nitro Bet, according to Iranian officials, resulted from meticulous intelligence research and surveillance spanning 14 months.

From the vantage point of Iranian authorities, the illegal gambling network also constituted a cultural attack—preparing to launch a stream of social media influencers aimed at eroding foundational Islamic-Iranian values and normalizing a culture of gambling. The arrest of five managers from within Iran, implicated in orchestrating the network’s operations, underscores the domestic implications of the network’s activities.

The seriousness of the situation is mirrored in Iranian law—Article 705 of the Islamic Penal Code prescribes a punishment of one to six months’ imprisonment or up to 74 lashes for those found guilty of illegal gambling operations, underscoring the state’s commitment to combating what it deems a social ill. In a stark reflection of the gravity with which Iran views such activities, a legislative bill was even introduced in 2021 proposing the death penalty for severe cases—though it has not been enacted into law.

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