Canadian Gaming CEO Resigns After Breaking Yukon COVID-19 Protocols

Posted on: January 25, 2021, 01:03h. 

Last updated on: January 25, 2021, 01:57h.

Rodney Baker, 55, has resigned from the Great Canadian Gaming Corporation (GCGC). Baker and his wife have been charged with breaking isolation requirements and sneaking into a clinic to receive the COVID vaccine.

Canadian gaming CEO resigns COVID-19
Rodney Baker and his wife Ekaterina, seen here in an undated photo, are accused of skipping the COVID-19 vaccination line. Rodney resigned as CEO of the Great Canadian Gaming Corporation today. (Image: Facebook)

The casino company, publicly traded on the Toronto Stock Exchange, announced today that Baker had submitted his resignation. It comes just days after he and his 32-year-old wife, Ekaterina Baker, were charged with breaking COVID-19 vaccination rules in Yukon.

The Bakers are accused of chartering a plane from Whitehorse to Beaver Creek. Upon arrival, the pair allegedly told workers at a Moderna mobile vaccination clinic that they were recently hired as motel workers, and therefore qualified to receive the dose.

Beaver Creek was among the first towns in the Yukon to receive COVID-19 vaccinations.

The Bakers are each accused of violating the territorial Civil Emergency Measures Act (CEMA). The couple has 30 days to respond to the charges. Penalties for violating CEMA include fines up to $500 per charge, up to six months in jail, or both.

Apollo Casino Takeover

Baker’s resignation likely has less to do with his charge of violating COVID-19 protocols and more to do with the takeover of GCGC. Last month, shareholders approved a $1.9 billion takeover presented by private equity giant Apollo Global Management.

After failing to reach a deal in November, Apollo upped its ante from C$39 a share to C$45 ($35.30). That was enough to sway investors into backing the buyout.

The Canadian gaming company struggled last year amid the pandemic, and Apollo saw an opportunity. After missing out on William Hill’s sports betting operations in the US, Apollo targeted GCGC.

Baker was appointed president of GCGC in 2010 and became its CEO the following year. The company owns and operates more than 20 casinos in British Columbia, Ontario, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia.

Apollo has a long history in the gaming industry. The firm acquired Harrah’s Entertainment along with TPG Capital in 2008 for almost $27.8 billion. Renamed Caesars Entertainment in 2010, Apollo sold off its Caesars control a decade later in 2018.

Billionaire Leon Black controls 23 percent of Apollo. Last October, he publicly admitted to paying the late disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein as much as $75 million for assistance on personal matters.

Medical Professionals Decoded Scheme

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation is reporting that the vaccination team was responsible for uncovering the Bakers’ alleged wrongdoings. After vaccinating the two, medical staffers called the hotel where they claimed to work to inform the property that they had received the dose. The hotel said they were not employed there.

We just didn’t anticipate that anyone would go to this length to effectively deceive the team to get vaccinated, and I think we all felt pretty offended at the whole thing,” said Yukon Community Services Minister John Streicker.

Streicker added that the vaccination protocols have been changed in order to prevent similar incidents.

“We will put in place additional procedures,” he explained. “I don’t imagine that this is going to repeat itself.”