Gambling baron sentenced to 14 years

Rade Kotur, the infamous Swedish gangster known as in the Swedish press as “Spelkungen” (The Gambling King), was sentenced to 14-years-in prison by the Gothenburg District Court on Thursday.

He was convicted for instigating murder, illicit gambling, and serious economic crimes.

Nenad Misovic, a 36-year-old hit man already convicted to life in prison for carrying out a murder Kotur is said to have ordered, was also convicted on Thursday of attempted murder.

Misovic’s life sentence covers his conviction for the new charges, the court said in a statement.

Of the additional 11 defendants in the case, nine received sentences ranging from two years in prison to suspended sentences and community service. Two of those charged were acquitted of all charges.

The court’s ruling is thought to be a huge success for the prosecutor who had great difficulty getting witnesses to testify against Kotur during the trial.

Many went into hiding and then fled the country out of fear of repercussions from Kotur, who ruled his gaming machine empire with an iron fist.

In November 2007, police raided Kotur’s illegal gambling operations at 150 locations across the country. Shortly thereafter, the Gambling King was arrested in England.

He was charged for operating close to 600 illegal slot machines, which were estimated to have generated 460 million kronor ($52.2 million) in revenues in three years.

During the four month trial against Kotur and his 12 accomplices, which began in August 2008, prosecutors had argued for a lifetime prison sentence.


Gambling addicts ‘not getting enough help’

Swedish health authorities have criticised the lack of help available in Sweden for gambling addiction, with many municipalities providing no resources at all to deal with the problem.

Despite recent figures suggesting that nearly 200,000 people in Sweden have some kind of gambling problem the institute has slammed local authorities for not spending enough money dealing with the problem.

At least 50 municipalities provide no treatment at all for compulsive gamblers according to Sweden’s National Institute for Public Health (Folkhälsoinstitutet).

“It is very serious for those who are addicted to gambling and for those who live with problem gamblers, Marie Risbäck, coordinator of problem gambling issues at the Institute, told Sveriges Radio (SR).

Gambling problems are especially prevalent among young men, where it is estimated that one in ten between the ages of 18-24 have issues to some degree with over 17 billion kronor ($2.5 billion) wasted just on Svenska Spel, ATG and other ostensibly Swedish betting operations.

Three years ago a survey showed that some 40 municipalities provided no help to those with gambling problems, and the situation has just got worse since, with even fewer resources being made available.

The Public Health Institute believes that the government on a national and local level is not taking responsibility for doing anything about it.

It has therefore called for a state run action plan for the prevention of problem gambling, clearer rules on betting advertising, and an increase in care and treatment to all those in need.