Brazilian Football Star Arrested in an Underground Casino

March 16th, 2021 4.00pm

Brazilian football player Gabriel Gabigol Barbosa made the headlines this weekend after being arrested in a police raid in Sao Paulo. Flamengo striker was among the guests of an underground casino in the country’s largest city.

He was taken into custody in the early hours of Sunday but was seen leaving the police station a couple of hours later.

All forms of gambling have been banned in Brazil since the 1940s.

Irresponsible Behaviour

Police and health inspectors arrived at the illegal gambling establishment at one of the city’s wealthy neighbourhoods, Vila Olimpia. Upon their arrival, they witnessed people were gambling, drinking alcohol, and not wearing masks.

According to available information, more than 200 people were at the premises when police raided the makeshift casino. In addition to gambling illegally, people there were also in violation of the current rules imposed to deal with the ongoing health crisis.

The initial reports said Gabigol was found hiding under a table, but the 24-year-old football star later rejected these claims. After being question by the authorities, Gabigol was released without charges.

Gabigol started his career in Santos and left to play in Europe in 2016. After spending four seasons at Inter Milan, the Brazilian who was once hailed as the new Neymar joined Flamengo in 2019. During the 2020 season, which came to a closure in February, he scored fourteen goals, leading his team to another championship title in the country’s top tier, the Campeonato Brasileiro. Gabigol debuted for the Brazilian national team in 2016 and has since played five games.

Disgraced Star Claims He Wasn’t Hiding Under a Table

Following the arrest, Gabigol issued an official apology in which he explained he had decided to leave as soon as he had seen there were more people present at the location. According to his statement, he was about to enter the elevator when the police raided the illegal casino.

Gabigol also said the authorities had taken him to a room, where they explained the situation. The football star offered his help and even signed a document promising to return to testify.

He pointed out he had left the property with his head held high.

Commenting on the case, police chief Eduardo Brotero said the illegal gambling den was filled with people who had been violating protective measures, consuming alcohol, and clearly not adhering to social distancing rules. According to Brotero, the casino managers will be charged with violating the ban on gambling, while an additional investigation will focus on investigating crimes against public health.

The 24-year old athlete admitted he had made a mistake and that he shouldn’t have been there in the first place. He explained he was always behaving responsibly, wearing a mask and using a hand sanitiser.

Gabigol also added he usually didn’t gamble and had been out with his friends, looking for something to eat. His club issued a statement as well, saying it would resolve the matter internally.

Brazil is the largest country in South America and the most populated country on the continent, with more than 209 million inhabitants. It’s also the fifth largest one in the world.

Almost all forms of gambling have been banned in the country since the 1940s. Only legal gambling activities are state-organised lotteries and betting on horse races. Under the provisions of Brazilian law, poker is regarded as a game of skill, meaning it’s perfectly legal.

The football star claims he and his friends were only looking for a place to eat.