OPP Busts C$131m Hells Angels-Linked Online Sports Betting Ring

  • Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) have layed 228 charges against 28 suspects
  • Two-year probe into the illegal gambling ring was dubbed Project Hobart
  • Allegedly run by Robert Barletta, Craig McIlquham, and Eugenio “Gino” Reda
  • Public safety issue due to assaults, arsons, and shootings that were taking place
bikers riding through a street
A C$131m (US$99.7m) illegal gambling ring with links to the Hells Angels motorcycle gang has been dismantled by the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP). [Image: Shutterstock.com]

28 arrests made

The Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) have made 28 arrests after dismantling an illegal online sports betting ring that is believed to have raked in around C$131m (US$99.7m) over five years.

Four alleged members of the notorious Hells Angels motorbike gang have been accused of running the betting ring. Authorities have also identified links between the betting ring and a significant crime family in the area.

members of the notorious Hells Angels motorbike gang have been accused of running the betting ring

The raids and arrests were the result of a two-year investigation by law enforcement in Ontario. Cash, cars, houses, and guns were seized during these raids. Assaults, arsons, and shootings resulted in authorities taking action.

A murder also took place during the course of the investigation. Hells Angels member Michael Deabaitua-Schulde, who authorities believe was involved in this illegal betting ring, was shot to death in Mississauga.

Commenting on the betting ring being busted and well-known crime figures being arrested, the head of Ontario’s biker enforcement unit, Staff Sergeant Anthony Renton, said: “This will have a great impact through the nation. It will have a disruption throughout the entire country and internationally.”

Renton went on to discuss how the dismantling of this group will likely cut out a lot of violence that has been occurring in the area.

Operation Hobart

During the course of this two-year investigation, dubbed Operation Hobart, authorities enlisted the help of 17 different law enforcement groups, including the Canada Revenue Agency.

It has been alleged that five separate websites were operating as part of this illegal betting ring. Police believe that C$131m (US$99.7m) in revenue was generated by these websites over the course of five years. From January 2019 until the start of July, a total of C$13m (US$9.9m) was generated alone.

The websites operated by the gambling ring included the Players Sportsbook, Privada Sportsbook, PlaytoWin Sportsbook, Titan Sportsbook, and the Ultimate Sportsbook.

Significant seizures

The raids took place on December 12 and December 13. In total, seven residences and a couple of vacation properties were seized, believed to be worth in the region of C$8m (US$6m).

Authorities also seized financial accounts holding C$1.2m (US$910,000), 18 vehicles, over C$1.7m (US$1.3m) in cash, gold and silver bars and coins worth C$320,000 (US$243,000), and luxury jewelry worth C$303,000 (US$230,000).

It wasn’t just the gang’s ill-gotten gains that were seized. A total of 21 firearms were taken by the authorities. This included nine handguns, six rifles, three other types of handguns, and three shotguns.

Notable arrests

The OPP laid a combined 228 charges against 28 suspects, many of whom are high-profile names in the area.

Robert Barletta, nicknamed the “Teflon Biker” due to his history of avoiding or beating criminal charges, faces dozens of charges relating to firearms and bookmaking offenses, and commission of an offense for a criminal group.

nicknamed the “Teflon Biker” due to his history of avoiding or beating criminal charges

Barletta has also been accused of income tax evasion for allegedly failing to report revenue totaling C$770,000 (US$586,000) between 2015 and 2018. 

Gordon Baird made an admission in court in 2017 that he was the main operator of the Platinum sports betting ring that handled over C$103m (US$99.7m) in bets between 2009 and 2013.

At the time, Baird served an 18-month conditional sentence at his home. He also paid a fine of C$400,000 (US$304,000). He is now facing three charges of bookmaking.