David Williams | 04 Feb 2018
Canada is one of the many countries worldwide that has legalised casino gambling – but despite this, the nation is still suffering a continuous rise in underground gambling rates across all of its provinces. Just weeks ago in December last year, an illegal Richmond gambling club masquerading as a karaoke bar became the latest to be bust by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, who are still perplexed as to how to handle the growing issue of illegal gambling in Canada.
Canadians may not be required to pay taxes on their casino or lottery winnings, but they are often taxed when playing at safe, licensed online and mobile casinos that are operated outside of the country’s borders. To avoid these taxes, many players are not opting to gamble under the radar to avoid detection by the authorities, turning to underground gambling clubs instead of regulated sites.
Another attractive aspect for players is that illegal clubs do not impose minimum bet limits, making wagering easier for those with smaller budgets. Staking possessions, such as cars, electronics or even drugs, are commonplace at these clubs in place of traditional cash wagers as well.
Illicit bookies are also able to offer their punters much better odds, as they do not pay taxes or overhead licensing fees. These bookmakers also often accept bets by phone – another illegal practice – while underground wagers are often accepted at the same place as the location at which casino games are staged for added convenience.
However, while these features may seem beneficial to some, the dangers far outweigh the perceived perks. Players and punters who choose to gamble underground have no grounds for recourse should lawless operators refuse to pay out or resort to dangerous means to obtain money that is owed to them. Game rigging, match fixing and other dishonest activities are also rife in unlicensed gambling rings.
These are some of the reasons why Canadian police are working around the clock to crack down on illegal gambling dens, as is evidenced by the recent Richmond incident. On 3 December, police identified an illegal gambling operation in the industrial area of Voyageur Way, spanning a massive 2,000 square feet and offering underground gambling and illegal alcohol sales.
Police quickly shut down the establishment and seized all of the alcohol on the premises, finding around 20 customers aged 19-25 inside the 2-level building. Officers noted that the safety risks posed by such operations include a wide range of hazards such as gambling, fire hazards, criminal activity, unlicensed liquor, and even road safety concerns due to inebriated drivers.
Richmond has also been a hotspot for such activity of late, with the government seizing a mansion back in mid-2017 after it was discovered that patrons (including members of a well-known, violent gang) were gambling illegally on the premises.