Toronto Mayor Blasts ‘Anti-Fun Police’ After Seniors Gambling Crackdown

Posted on: August 12, 2019, 06:12h. 

Last updated on: August 12, 2019, 07:06h.

A group of Toronto senior citizens who played card games and bingo for pennies at a city-run community center have been victimized by “the anti-fun police,” according to Toronto Mayor John Tory.

Toronto mayor
The senior citizens of the Scarborough Village Recreation Centre, whose gambling habits caught the attention of the busybodies at the Parks and Recreation Department. (Image: CTV)

The elderly gamblers’ game of choice was reportedly the card game euchre, which they played with a buy-in of C$1.25 ($0.94) — that is, before killjoy officials erected a sign on Friday demanding the stakes be slashed to C$0.25 ($0.19) while “a review” into their activities was conducted.

“[The money] makes the game a little more exciting, but it’s also the socializing … It’s my social life. Between that and quilting, it’s what keeps me busy,” explained one disgruntled septuagenarian to Global News this week.

Dirty Money Hotspot

The decision to disrupt the group’s regular game was branded a heavy-handed “joke” by critics, which moved Tory to demand the original buy-in fee be reinstated.

Private games are legal in Ontario provided the stakes are kept low and no one is taking a rake.

“We should be doing everything possible to ensure our community centers are welcoming places for everyone, especially our seniors,” said Tory, as reported by Global News. “Getting together and doing things like playing euchre will keep seniors happier and healthier.

I am sure if there is any danger of Las Vegas-style gambling breaking out en masse in our community centres, we will know about it,” Tory added.

It’s not as though Canada doesn’t currently have bigger fish to fry. In May, a British Columbia government review panel looking into the money-laundering scandal that had engulfed that province’s casinos called for a nationwide investigation.

The panel believes around C$7 billion ($5.2 billion) was washed through British Columbia’s casinos and real-estate market, largely by Chinese criminal gangs in 2018 alone, due to weak regulations and inadequate oversight.

But it also thinks an estimated $47 billion ($35.5 billion) may have been laundered through the entire country during the same period. Ontario was named by the panel as a possible dirty-money hotspot.

Unlike in the United States, in Canada all criminal prosecutions are brought by federal authorities, and BC officials have become frustrated by the federal government’s failure to successfully prosecute anybody at all for turning the province’s casinos into a “laundromat for organized crime.”

Killjoys Chastened

The feds were not behind the crackdown at the Scarborough Village Recreation Centre, of course. According to local media, it was the overly officious Parks and Recreation Department that was to blame.

But there’s also a question of why federal prosecutors have failed to apply a similar level of rigor to those whose gambling-related activities pose a serious criminal threat to Canadian national security.

In the meantime, Tory said he would apologize to the seniors on behalf of the city, and assure them personally that the issue would be resolved.