Super Bowl ‘gambling party,’ Act II: How much money did the cops blow?
If the mega-bust of the eighth annual Super Bowl ‘gambling’ party was a non-event staged for TV news, what to think of the vast police resources wasted on it?
In my Monday blog, I made the case that when more than 200 York Region Police, some in SWAT gear, swooped down on 2,300 people invited to watch the game at a Markham banquet hall, it was mainly for the benefit of TV cameras.
Only six people among the 2,300 were arrested, the alleged local operators of the online gambling websites that sponsored the party.
Police allege that all kinds of wagering took place at the party, but not one of the 2,300 guests was charged as a found-in at a common gaming house, as is usually the case when they bust a joint where gambling is in progress.
Could it be that there was zero evidence of gambling, since customers of the website would have already made most of their bets from home computers or on their phones, which is not illegal?
In fact, police told everyone they were free to go, without even having their ID checked.
At a Monday news conference to announce details of the bust, police were evasive when asked how much of the $2.5 million in cash seized in the execution of warrants at a total of nine locations was from the party.
The cop providing the information said he didn’t have a breakdown on exactly how much money came from where, but leaned heavily on an “illegal raffle” of a Sea-Doo and a motorcycle, as a source of cash taken from the party.
Surely $2.5 million in raffle tickets weren’t sold, and since when are 200 police deployed to bust a raffle?
I have trouble believing the cop in charge of the news conference didn’t know if the cash came from the homes of the guys they arrested, or from the party. Most of it came from a safe in one of the homes, as it turns out.
As for the police claim that the website operators are in cahoots with bikers, the only proof is that bikers provided security for the party. It may have been a dumb choice, but police will have to go a lot farther to prove that bikers are partners in the websites.
It defies common sense to shut down a party to arrest six guys whom they’ve been tailing, wiretapping and building a case against, when it could have been much more surgical and precise, and far cheaper.
They had to know that since wagering wass done online, and most of it before the game, the party was, uh, just a party, and peaceful, at that.
Couldn’t they have pinched their targets before or after the party, and spared taxpayers the expense of marshalling 200 officers to do what, other than tell everybody it’s time to go home?
There’s way more to this than meets the eye (as in the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp.), which we’ll examine later this week.