SKS365 founders and owner named in mafia probe

4 October 2019

Several former members of the board of Planetwin365 operator SKS365, as well as the owner of the investment fund which owns the operator, have received notice that they are set to be charged as suspects in Italy’s largest money-laundering investigation, Operation Galassia.

In total, 51 people named as suspects in the investigation and could face trial, including the business' co-founders, none of whom remain with the company.

The investigation, into links between the mafia and gambling companies, alleges that SKS365 ⁠— Italy’s second-largest online sports betting operator as of August with 13.1% of the market ⁠— operated illegal gambling venues bankrolled by the Martiradonna mafia crime family. The company secured licences for the majority of its internet betting cafés - known as CTDs - in 2015 and 2016, but continued to run the illegal operations, the investigation claims.

The company was purchased by the Ramphastos investment fund in 2017, which saw the previous directors leave the business. In a statement, SKS365 stressed that the investigation was into the previous management of the company and said there was no wrongdoing by its current management.

“In relation to the dispute with the Reggio Calabria Public Prosecutor, referring to 'Operazione Galassia' investigation, SKS365 specifies that the facts refer to a period prior to the current company’s management, which has absolutely nothing to do with the story,” SKS365 said.

“For its part, SKS365 collaborates with the competent authorities and reserves the right to take any action aimed at protecting its interests and its image.”

However, Ramphastos owner Marcel Boekhoorn was also named in the investigation. The investigation alleges that Ramphastos’s purchase of Talenta Labs, an Italian gaming software company, was partially funded by money Tavarelli, who recommended the deal, received from the mafia. Two partners at Ramphastos were also named in the investigation.

Ramphastos said in a statement that there was no wrongdoing on the company’s part or that of its members in the purchase of Talenta.

“Ramphastos denies that any wrongdoing has been perpetrated by its managers in the financial settlement of the acquisition of Talenta Labs,” the company said. “Ramphastos puts its trust in the justice system and will cooperate with any possible investigation by the authorities. As a matter of policy, Ramphastos does not comment further on the ongoing legal proceeding”.

After 20 days, the Anti-Mafia prosecutor's office will proceed with the requests to charge the 51 suspects. The suspects may provide information to the prosecutor during these 20 days.

In July, SKS365 stablished a new supervisory board to enhance its legal, compliance and anti-money laundering measures.

Through its Planetwin365 brand, the operator held an 11% share of the Italian-regulated retail and remote sports bettting market in August and accounted for 13.1% of revenues from dot.it sports betting.​

Correction:
An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that Thomas Smallwood was a co-founder of SKS365. Mr Smallwood was in fact​ an employee of the business for a two-year period, leaving in 2016.