Ontario Fighting to Keep $40M Seized From Mega Illegal Gambling Ring

  • A key focus in the court case is how CA$270,000 ended up in a defendant’s bedroom
  • His lawyer claims this money was accumulated legitimately
  • The government needs to show that the seized assets have links to unlawful activity
Brick of money wrapped in a chain
The authorities in Ontario are in court trying to hold onto CA$40m worth of assets seized from a major illegal gambling ring. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Ontario is fighting to hold onto CA$40m (US$30m) worth of assets that it seized from an alleged illegal gambling operation. A key focus of the case is how CA$270,000 (US$201,461) in cash managed to get into a defendant’s bedroom. The Ministry of the Attorney General argues that Dimitris Kellesis was as middleman in the gambling ring, so the state should get to keep the money.

Kellesis’ lawyer refutes the link to the illegal operation and says that his client has a reasonable explanation for the money. It was supposedly a combination of gifts, savings, and loan repayments. Kellesis was born in communist Czechoslovakia and distrusts authority as a result.

Ontario authorities also seized large sums of cash elsewhere, as well as gold, silver, jewelry, luxury houses, and high-end vehicles as part of Operation Hobart. Police believe that this was the country’s largest illegal online sports betting ring.  

accumulated over CA$160m (US$119m) in revenue

The authorities exposed the ring in December 2019 following 28 arrests. They allege that a crime family in Toronto and Hells Angels bikers ran the operation. This network allegedly spanned at least 14 betting sites and accumulated over CA$160m (US$119m) in revenue over its six years in operation.

The prosecution faces an uphill battle in the courts. The majority of charges were withdrawn over the past year, with no jail time handed out to anyone yet. They will now need to show that the seized property has links to unlawful activity in order to keep it.

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