Markham police shut down a Superbowl party Sunday night after uncovering an illegal sportsbetting operation in a banquet hall. Police say there were over 2,300 people in attendance at the party, but they only charged the six people coordinating the betting activity. The raid also shutdown the Platinum Sports Book online gambling site, which police believe was operated by the criminal group.
York Regional Police Superintendent Paul Pedersen says the conspirators sent out invitations to the illegal gaming party in the weeks preceding the Superbowl. Over 400 officers followed the digital paper trail and gathered search warrants for property throughout the GTA. Pederson says the authorities seized over $2.5 million in cash from the venue hall, along with 20 computers with access to the illegal sportsbook. Police seized the online sportsbetting domain, and web traffic has now been redirected to the police investigation site.
“Only those invited by the organizers of this criminal enterprise could attend and only those sponsored by this criminal organization could participate in the website. As of early this morning over 17,000 hits were registered at this website from illegal gamers trying to collect on their bets.”
Police allege the six men arrested at the gaming hall are connected to a criminal organization that uses unlicensed online casinos to profit from illegal sportsbetting. The charges include illegal bookmaking, conspiracy, and operating an illicit common gaming house. Due to the organized crime connections, the RCMP was included in the investigation, and Acting Superintendent Keith Finn says the illegal website undermines online casinos in Ontario that are legally licensed.
“This was the largest investigation to date targeting illegal gaming and organized crime’s participation in these criminal offences.”
Authorities recommend Canadian gamblers use online casino guides to identify regulated casinos before registering a gambling account. This will lower traffic to illicit online gambling sites, which will help reduce significant streams of revenue for criminal organizations.
The six men charged in the raid are scheduled to appear in court on March 21.