$2.5M seized in Super Bowl super bust
Published Monday, February 4, 2013 11:28AM EST
Last Updated Monday, February 4, 2013 2:41PM EST
More than 400 officers were involved in the bust of an alleged illegal gambling ring Sunday night, seizing more than $2.5 million in cash.
York Regional Police updated the public at a news conference Monday morning on the outcome of the raid. The raid, -- dubbed “Super Bust” by investigators -- took place at Markham banquet hall “Le Parc” during a Super Bowl party.
Police said nine other search warrants were executed as far away as London, Ont. and six people were arrested. Their businesses and homes were also searched and a number of high-value items were seized, including a safe that police say is the size of a car. The safe, which was seized at a location not far from the hall, had to be removed on a flatbed truck.
The six men arrested were all taken into custody at the banquet hall. Police allege they are connected to the event organizer, Platinum Sports Book, an enterprise police said was a joint venture between outlaw biker gangs and traditional organized crime groups.
The men are now facing numerous charges, including bookmaking, participating in or contributing to an activity of a criminal organization, keeping a common betting house and conspiracy.
More than 20 computers were also seized at the Highway 7 and Leslie Street banquet hall, where some 2,300 people were gathered for an invitation-only Super Bowl party. Police allege the computers were being used to facilitate PlatinumSportsBook.com, an illegal offshore gambling website whose transactions were being processed in Costa Rica.
The website has now been shut down. RCMP have taken control of it, as well as a customer service line run by Platinum Sports Book.
“We were able to shut down what had become an illegal gaming house,” said Acting Supt. Keith Finn. “You have to be known or know someone at an illegal gaming group to get an invite to this event.”
He said the type of gambling that was shut down at the Markham venue last night is inherently different from legal gambling operations in the province, with proceeds going to fund other types of crime.
“The folks that were running this illicit gaming house last night – their money goes to fund their illicit activities, including human trafficking and prostitution,” Finn said.
Aside from those arrested, no charges have been laid against people who were participating in the Super Bowl event, police said.
The names of those arrested are expected to be released later on Monday.
Platinum Sports Book has been operating for a number of years, police said at the news conference. An invitation to the Markham event posted to Facebook Sunday night described it as the eighth annual Super Bowl party organized by the enterprise. It was set to feature an open bar, dinner, door prizes and a calendar signing by Playboy centrefolds.
This is the largest illegal gaming bust of its type in Ontario, according to police. The bust was coordinated by federal, provincial and local police, including officers from Toronto, York, Peel and Durham.
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