MARKHAM, Ont. – Six men were arrested after police raided a multi-million dollar illegal gaming enterprise at a Markham banquet hall on Super Bowl Sunday.
The Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit, which is dedicated to tackling organized crime, said a lengthy investigation “revealed the illegal gaming enterprise was allegedly run by organized crime groups.”
York Regional Police executed a search warrant at an invitation-only gambling event held at Le Parc Banquet Hall near Leslie Street and Regional Road 7 Sunday evening.
Police said 2,300 attendees were at the invite-only event. They were dispersed in an orderly fashion without charges, police said.
“I want to be clear that this event last night [was] not open to the public,” said Supt. Paul Pedersen.
Police also dismantled an offshore website. According to police, PlatinumSB, an online casino and sports book, is allegedly linked to organized crime. Traffic to the website is being rerouted to the CFSEU, police said. Its customer service line is being rerouted to the RCMP.
The website has registered over 17,000 hits since early Monday morning, police said, and the customer service line has received hundreds of calls.
“Online gaming in this fashion is not available to anyone,” Pedersen said. “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.”
“Thousands of gamblers placed illegal bets using this large-scale gaming site,” said RCMP acting Supt. Keith Finn.
Finn said the investigation is the largest to date targeting illegal gaming.
“Illegal gaming such as this lines the pockets of organized crime groups,” Finn said.
“Monies are utilized to fund other illegal ventures.”
Police said proceeds from illegal gaming are being funnelled into human trafficking, prostitution and illegal gaming parlours.
Police said $2.5-million in cash, 20 computers, cellphones, business records and a safe were seized in nine search warrants executed in the Greater Toronto Area and London, Ont.
Pedersen said the investigation is in its early stages and will focus on those profiting from the illegal website, “not those using the gaming site.”
He added that police are “very comfortable” in stating that the event was hosted by an organized crime group.
“We’re also comfortable saying that there are members that were part of outlawed motorcycle gangs there and traditional organized crime,” he said.
Police are also exploring whether the Hells Angels are linked.
The six men face gaming-related charges. Police have yet to release the identities of the accused.