Online gambling in Canada has taken the nation by storm and it seems that web-based casinos are all making huge profits, mainly due to people spending most of their time at home due to the COVID-19 outbreak. While their bricks-and-mortar cousins have been shut down, there has been another type of outbreak in Ontario – illegal gaming dens. They have been popping up like mushrooms lately and police are finding it hard to keep up.
Numerous law enforcement agencies are working together on tandem investigations known as Project Endgame and thanks to their efforts it has come to light that Ontario may very well be the underground casino capital of the world. A recent bust in Markham revealed the incredible scale of a particular gambling den. From the outside it may have appeared to be a luxurious bed and breakfast with spa facilities, but in truth, the basement housed an underground casino with table games and slots, where table limits were set as high as $20,000. Gamblers could also enjoy a variety of luxury food items and allegedly prostitution.
Behind this latest bust in Markham is one man known as Wei Wei. Back in 2016 he met with President Justin Trudeau at least twice, including once at a controversial fundraiser in the home of another Chinese investor. Trudeau’s presence violated several ethical regulations regarding donations exchanged for preferential treatment.
Wei Wei is now facing various charges, including possession of a firearm, illegally operating a gambling establishment, and selling liquor and banned food items like shark fins at the 20,000 square feet mansion.
How online casinos are different
Canadian players are allowed to gamble on whatever sites they so choose but only the government can operate gambling sites within the nation. Still, the doors are open for foreign operators to provide services freely to players in the Great North. This doesn’t make these sites illegal, but there are several differences between how these online operators conduct their business. It all comes down to where they are licensed and where they operate from.
Nations like the United Kingdom, Malta, Sweden and Germany have very strict rules and compliance when it comes to awarding a gaming license. But there are still thousands of sites out there without any license whatsoever. Here’s a checklist to help you navigate the online gaming landscape and why you should only play at casinos with a license.
• Payment methods: This is the most important reason for why you should never gamble at unlicensed casinos. Legit casinos will only offer trusted payment methods and there is a lot more transparency. Deposits and withdrawals are regulated and you will hardly ever have any problems.
Casinos without any license may have rules in place that prevents them from obtaining a license even if they tried. There are online casinos based in former Soviet Union countries with very high minimum deposit limits and a waiting time of up to 30 days since your last deposit until you can make a withdrawal. And then you could be told that the minimum amount you can take out is $500.
• Customer support: Forget it. You have no protection against an unlicensed casino. You’re highly likely to find the good old adage “in case of a dispute, management’s word is final” in the terms and conditions. The moment you created your account you agreed to the terms and you will find that you have nowhere to turn if you have a disagreement with the casino.
Don’t be surprised if you will not find support staff to chat with around the clock and emails can go unanswered for days and weeks.
• Games: Companies that provide games for online casinos also need to have their games licensed and verified for fairness by third parties. Game providers may even be in violation of their own licenses if they provide games to unlicensed casinos.
Basically, you have no idea what the actual Return to Player is on any of the games you are playing and there are no guarantees that they are even fair. So… good luck with that. And should you be so lucky to actually win, there’s nothing stopping the casino from blocking your withdrawal.
• Responsible gaming: This is another big one. While licensed casinos have to adhere to very strict rules pertaining to their marketing of offers and games, unlicensed casinos may be hurling offers at addicted players without remorse.
• Country restrictions: Gambling is illegal in many countries and regulated casinos would never offer their services to nationals who are not legally allowed to gamble. Casinos without a license do not care about this and leave their virtual doors open to whoever decides to enter.
When it comes to illegal casinos out in the real world and why should not play there should be a no-brainer. It may seem innocent from the player perspective, but you could be charged with a series of crimes ranging from illegal gambling to money laundering. Then of course there is the problem of getting a job when you have a criminal record once you get out of jail. While you will most likely never face charges for playing at an unlicensed online casino, the prospect of losing all your money to shady operators should be enough to keep you at bay.