National Post (Latest Edition)

Five things to know about recent gambling den busts

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An illegal gambling operation at a large mansion in Markham,

Ont., had guard dogs, armed guards, spa services for clients

and may have supported sex traffickin­g, police alleged

Wednesday as they announced dozens of arrests related to the enterprise.

Here are the details:

1 Luxury services

Thirty- three people were arrested on 70 charges and millions of dollars in cash and assets were seized in connection with what was taking place at the sprawling property, York Regional Police said. “This was a large high- end operation. Gamblers had access to accommodat­ion, spa treatments, high- end food and beverage

services,” said Supt. Mike Slack, adding that contraband like braised shark fin and $ 1.5 million in top- shelf liquor and

wine were also available.

2 Worth of a TV show

Police said 11 guns — including a semi- automatic AR-15 rifle — and more than $ 11.5 million dollars in cash, gaming supplies, alcohol and property were seized from the Markham mansion. “Human sex traffickin­g is also suspected and is also under investigat­ion.”

3 And there were kids

Deputy Chief Brian Bigras said investigat­ors spent months on the case — which was dubbed Operation End Game — before

finally executing a search warrant with a tactical team on July 23. Bigras said the operation was complicate­d by the presence of firearms and guard dogs, and a previous attempt at executing the warrant was called off after children were spotted at the property’s patio.

4 Drugs to keep gamblers awake

Police said additional warrants have been executed at other gambling properties around the Greater Toronto Area as a result of the investigat­ion, leading to more charges and arrests. Some of those alleged gaming houses were lower- end venues that targeted people with gambling addictions. Investigat­ors alleged that operators provided users with methamphet­amine so they could continue to gamble without having to sleep.

5 Vice abhors a vacuum

Slack said there has been a noted uptick in illegal

gambling activities during the COVID-19 pandemic

as legal casinos had been closed for months as part of provincial efforts to fight the virus. “As casinos closed … it opened up an opportunit­y for these extravagan­t locations to

make a profit,” said Slack.

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