Illegal gambling ring discovered

Ontario Provincial Police laid charges against 9 people in the student community over an illegal gaming house

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

WATERLOO (CUP) " Ontario Provincial Police raided an illegal gambling operation on Oct. 17. Two individuals, one student and one recent graduate of nearby University of Waterloo have been charged with keeping a common gaming house.

Nine others are facing charges for being found gambling in the residence.

“We just came home and there were cops everywhere,” said Matt Grennier, a fourth-year economics student, who lives in the apartment next door.

“When I came in [the building] I heard one guy " they were setting up a court date or something " said something about ‘what if I have a midterm that day?’” he added.

Though Grennier noted he doesn’t spend much time in the complex because of his demanding schedule, he had no idea his neighbours were involved in any illegal activities.

Matt Black, a University of Waterloo student who also lives in the complex, said he never noticed any suspicious behaviour in the building.

“They did ask me to play poker once, though ... around like the start of September. I thought it was just guys playing poker,” Black said.

The two operating the gaming room were both in their early 20s. One is a current University of Waterloo student and the other recently graduated.

“Yes, there [were university students charged],” said Sergeant Bill Sword, a detective with the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP), Organized Crime Section, Illegal Gambling Unit.

“The general crowd for that particular establishment was generally a university crowd,” he added.

According to Sword, a warrant had been issued for the property after police became suspicious the residents of the apartment were making a profit off of gamblers who were coming to play Texas Hold’em poker.

“We have received complaints from players, people that felt that maybe they had been ripped off,” Sword said, adding there were also tips from “concerned persons who became aware of it, also Crime Stopper tips, and just through our own proactive policing through informants.”

Police confiscated the poker table, chips, playing cards, marijuana and cash.

“[The gambling room] was in a separate room within that apartment,” Sword said, noting that one room was kept vacant specifically for the use of playing poker.

Sword also noted that the dealers found in this operation were “pretty good,” and he estimates that those living in the house could be making approximately $150 per hour during playing time.

“The small operations [such as the one in Waterloo] without exaggeration are making up to about a quarter of a million per table per year,” he said.

If convicted, those being charged with running the gaming room can face up to two years in jail, while the gamblers may have to pay a fine.

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