Police in Marrakech have arrested 29 individuals, including 20 foreigners, for turning a residential villa into a casino.
The arrests took place on Friday evening, according to a statement from Morocco’s General Directorate of National Security (DGSN).
The suspects are facing charges for violating the state of health emergency, hosting and participating in illegal gambling games, and selling alcoholic beverages without authorization.
The arrested individuals included two French nationals who managed the casino, as well as four Senegalese and three Moroccan employees. One of the Moroccan suspects was subject to a national arrest warrant, DGSN said without specifying the warrant’s motive.
The other suspects arrested on Friday evening were “customers” from different nationalities who were attending the illegal gambling facility.
Security services have confiscated several equipment used for gambling games, bottles of alcoholic drinks, and large sums of money in Moroccan dirham and in foreign currency.
The suspects will remain in custody pending further investigations.
The individuals who decided to turn their villa into a casino appear to have attempted to exploit the fact that casinos and nightclubs are still closed in Marrakech, due to the nationwide night curfew, in order to make profit.
Casinos and other nightlife entertainment venues have been closed since Morocco entered a state of health emergency in March 2020.
Despite Moroccan authorities allowing restaurants and cafes to reopen in Marrakech, businesses that used to thrive from the city’s nightlife reputation are still severely impacted.
All Moroccan businesses are required to shut their doors at 8 p.m., while citizens are banned from going outside after 9 p.m.