Canadian police made more arrests on Wednesday in connection with the PlatinumSB online sports betting operation, the third bout of arrests since a Super Bowl party hosted by site organizers was raided on Feb. 3. In addition to the six individuals arrested by the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit on Super Bowl Sunday, 18 more individuals connected with the Ontario-based credit betting operation were taken into custody on March 5. Three more individuals were arrested on Wednesday, and warrants were issued for two more.
Among those charged on Wednesday with bookmaking and committing a crime for the benefit of a criminal organization was Hiesam Kadri, a London, Ontario used car salesman who just happens to be the uncle of Toronto Maple Leafs hockey player Nazem Kadri. (D’oh!) Crown attorney Henry Poon told CTV News that the individuals arrested on Wednesday were “late comers” to the operation, having been recruited to fill the void left by the other arrests.
PlatinumSB’s customers placed their wagers online but all financial transactions were conducted on the ground using betting agents. Poon said that PlatinumSB’s brain trust was apparently unaware that the Crown’s authorization for wiretap and recording devices had not expired with the original arrests, and Kadri’s recruitment as a bookie was caught on tape prior to the most recent action. As part of the original action in February, PlatinumSB’s Costa Rican website had its .com domain seized, but the site was relaunched within hours using a .tk domain.
C-290 SPORTS BETTING LEGISLATION DEBATE PLODS ON
Meanwhile, Canada’s Senate continues to slow-roll the C-290 single-game sports betting legislation. The last time the bill came up for debate was March 7, when Sen. Donald Neil Plett rose to recite the same tired – and thoroughly discredited – talking points C-290’s opponents have trotted out since the bill hit the Senate. Seems the Senate’s Conservative majority is indeed intent on letting C-290 die “a natural death,” despite a majority of Canadians supporting the bill’s passage.
C-290 has also earned the support of David G. Schwartz, director of the Center for Gaming Research at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. C-290 was originally proposed by Joe Comartin, the NDP MP for Windsor, Ontario, which is home to a Caesars Entertainment-run casino. Comartin pitched sports betting as a way to lure US punters across the border, thereby boosting the lagging casino’s bottom line. Schwartz told CBC News that sports betting “would definitely be a draw. It would give people a reason to cross the border.”
What’s more, the lack of progress on lifting the US prohibition on sports betting would ensure that Canadian border casinos would enjoy a competitive advantage for some time to come. Single game sports betting would also be a boost to the tourism industry as a whole, as evidenced by the fact that hotel room occupancy in Las Vegas is currently 20% higher than normal due to the NCAA March Madness tournament. Sadly, that message appears to be lost on Canada’s unelected Senators.