National Post (Latest Edition)
Five things to know about recent gambling den busts
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.