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Police detained 28 individuals yesterday on suspicion of involvement in an Internet gambling ring. Investigators conducted searches at 40 locations nationwide, including suspects' homes, offices, and currency-exchange stands.

Police believe the suspects systematically circumvented the ban on credit companies providing money-clearing services to gambling websites.

The individuals in question are suspected of organizing gambling activity, money laundering and tax violations.

Police said "cash cards" worth between NIS 100 and NIS 5,000 were distributed at dozens of kiosks in the center of the country.

After buying a card, gamblers scratched off its covering and entered its number into a gambling site, whereupon the amount of money was immediately deposited in the users' online account.

Once they cashed out, the sums were deposited into the individuals' bank accounts.

The ring, which included a well-oiled mechanism for distributing the cards, experienced a spike in buyers during the current soccer World Cup.

Police suspect hundreds of customers took part in the gambling ring, though they have not offered estimates of how much they believe was wagered.

One of the suspects is a police officer employed in the police's computer division holding the rank of superintendent, but who was suspended from service in January for reasons unrelated to the case. The officer's remand was extended yesterday by two days.

Police suspect Israel's leading organized crime families may also be involved in the case.