A leading figure in a defunct Canadian illegal online credit betting operation is facing two years in jail after pleading guilty to his wicked, wicked ways.
On Wednesday, 50-year-old David Hair appeared in Ontario Superior Court in Toronto, where he pleaded guilty to bookmaking for a criminal organization based on his involvement in Platinum SportsBook, an online credit betting operation with links to a Canadian chapter of the Hells Angels motorcycle gang.
Justice John McMahon heard Hair admit his role as a “leading member of the upper-echelon management group” of the credit betting operation, which police dismantled in February 2013 following raids on multiple properties, including an invitation-only Super Bowl party in Markham, Ontario for 2,300 of the ring’s best customers.
The ring utilized Costa Rica-based websites, including PlatinumSB.com, to process customers’ wagers, while the business of paying winnings and collecting debts was handled in person in the grand tradition of credit betting operations. Among the individuals caught up in the arrests was the uncle of Toronto Maple Leafs hockey player Nazem Kadri.
While the police seized the ring’s main online domain, the site was back up and running in less than a week under a different domain. Police estimated that the ring grossed over C$103m (US$82.3m) between 2009 and 2013.
Hair will be sentenced on February 21 but the deal he’s worked out with Crown prosecutors calls on him to serve two years in stripes. Hair must also ante up C$3m in fines, C$2m of which he’s to pay immediately, with the balance due within the next three years.
While co-accused Christopher Rutledge is scheduled to have his own day in court later this month, other PlatinumSB figures have previously resolved their own charges. Hells Angels member Billy Miller was sentenced to 15 months last October after being found guilty of playing a “leadership role” in the illegal bookmaking ring. Gordon Baird, who provided the technical knowhow to run the ring’s online operations, received a C$400k fine in 2016 but was spared a custodial sentence.
In 2014, a former PlatinumSB customer who worked at TD Bank was sentenced to over three years in prison for embezzling C$3m, all of which he’d blown betting on the site.
Technically speaking, Canada’s provincial gambling monopolies are the only options available to Canadian bettors, apart from the vast number of internationally licensed gambling sites that cater to the Canadian market. However, the monopolies are restricted to parlay wagering only, as legislative efforts to approve single-game sports betting have failed to pass.