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Cyprus' British military bases 'eradicate' illegal gambling

EPISKOPI, Cyprus (AP) — Police at a British military base in Cyprus said Tuesday they have successfully wrapped up a four-year campaign against illegal gambling by shutting down nine casinos that operated within their jurisdiction.

Superintendent Dinos Petrou said the casinos generated hundreds of thousands of euros annually in illegal proceeds. Ten people received prison sentences, while 30 others were fined heavily. Petrou said many of the casinos were built in areas adjacent or partly falling within Cyprus' jurisdiction and that complicated matters. To circumvent that, base police carried out raids together with Cypriot law enforcement.

Petrou said police will remain vigilant against any resurgence of illegal gambling and that there would be no-let up in prosecuting law-breakers even after Britain's departure from the European Union.

He also said 30 of the 1,500 personal computers seized during the police operations have been donated to local schools. Meanwhile, construction has begun on Cyprus' first integrated casino resort that is being billed as the largest of its kind in Europe. The casino, near the southern coastal city of Limassol, is slated to open in 2021.

The U.K. retained two military bases on Cyprus after the east Mediterranean island gained independence from British colonial rule in 1960.

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