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Albania police crack down on illegal betting shops

TIRANA, Albania (AP) — Albanian police said Friday they have cracked down on people operating betting shops, more than a year after they were banned in one of Europe's poorest countries. More than 1,500 police took part in the operation in the capital, Tirana, and seven other cities as Europa League soccer matches took place Thursday evening.

A statement said police arrested 115 people and 26 others are being investigated. They are the owners, managers or employees of the shops. Police also confiscated 17.2 million leks ($150,000; or 140,000 euros) and hundreds of computers and other electronic devices. They also sequestered a main controlling office that checked the operation of the shops.

In 2018, Albania's parliament voted to remove gambling from residential areas to curb its spread. Casinos are now only allowed in a few large hotels, while there are no legal shops taking bets on sports and racing. However, many of the shops have continued to operate in secret.

Online betting sites run from abroad are also illegal in Albania's cities.

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