The technical guru behind a Hells Angels-controlled online gambling site has been fined C$400k (US $306k) by a Canadian court.
In February 2013, Canadian police raided an invitation-only Super Bowl party in Markham, Ontario for customers of Platinum Sports Book, an online credit betting operation that utilized toll-free phone lines and a Costa Rica-based website. Police said the ring was operated by the London, Ontario chapter of the Hells Angels motorcycle gang.
On Monday, Justice John McMahon handed Gordon Baird a $400k fine for Baird’s role in operating the gang’s website, PlatinumSB.com. The 59-year-old Baird pled guilty to bookmaking and contributing to the activities of a criminal organization.
Baird had been looking at a potentially lengthy prison stint but his lack of prior convictions convinced McMahon to opt for an 18-month house arrest and 12 months probation. Baird has already paid $50k of his fine, but he’ll face a three-year prison stint if he fails to pay the balance within the next 12 months.
The PlatinumSB ring was a classic credit betting setup, with levels of agents and sub-agents serving a client list of thousands of sports bettors. As many as 3k of these bettors were invited to the party in Markham that police raided. Police said the ring grossed over $103m between 2009 and the 2013 bust.
While police trumpeted the 31 arrests, the confiscation of $4.6m in illegal betting proceeds and the seizure of the PlatinumSB.com domain, the ring established a new website within hours of the Markham raid. Court documents indicated Baird was responsible for registering the website domains.
As Baird was being sentenced, two alleged Hells Angels associates – Rob Barletta and Andrew Bielli – were in the same courthouse pleading not guilty to their own charges of bookmaking and possession of the proceeds of crime.
Canadian sports bettors are in a no-win situation, as their own government doesn’t allow them to place single-game wagers with their provincial gambling monopolies. More sensible bettors opt to wager with the infinite number of internationally licensed online gambling sites that serve the Canadian market, although these sites require bettors to post their stakes before they wager.