People get weird when dealing with money.
However, when millions enter the equation, the wacky can reach a whole new level.
From money laundering kingpins to lying boyfriends making off with millions, Canada online casino and Canada sports betting industry have plenty of tales.
PlayCanada.com recalls five of the weirdest Canadian gambling stories in recent memory.
5. A cartel, a mafia-style hit and a botched investigation
If The Sopranos were to come to Canada, what would it look like? Probably something like what transpired in Canada’s biggest-ever money-laundering case.
“Operation E-Pirate” – as it was known – goes like this:
In 2018, Caixuan Qin and her late husband, Jian Jun Zhu, were accused of laundering money. Investigators claimed they did so through their business called Silver International.
The Richmond, BC-based currency exchange allegedly acted as a front for an underground bank.
Criminals – including a cartel, Middle Eastern crime groups, and Chinese high rollers – washed more than $250 million annually through BC’s casino sector.
Unbelievably, the case was botched in 2018 when prosecutors inadvertently released the name of a key government informant.
However, two years later, things took a dark turn when a brazen shooting at a Richmond restaurant killed Zhu.
Police charged two men with the killing. But we may never fully know the extent of this story.
4. Niagara Falls woman wanted for gambling-related kidnapping
Speaking of the seedy underbelly of gambling, a Niagara Falls woman remains at large.
Bing Han allegedly held a Montreal woman against her will following gambling-related losses. The pair were reportedly gambling together when the victim lost a large sum of money.
Instead of providing her sympathies, Han demanded the victim repay the cash.
Han took the victim to a Markham hotel, where three other kidnapping suspects joined them when she couldn’t pay.
Before the event, police say Han suggested the victim could borrow money from a company she knew provided big loans.
Police have made three arrests already, but Han remains on the lamb.
Thankfully, the victim was found on April 15 in the hotel with no physical injuries.
But the story shows the insidious characters that can infiltrate the gambling world—even in Canada.
3. Canadian celebrities Drake, and xQc, make big public bets
Stars make a lot of money, and they can spend it however they choose. We get that.
But to the everyday person, will multi-million-dollar bets ever truly be normalized?
I’m not so sure. It is weird to see such gaudy — and awe-inspiring — wagers in the public eye.
Musical icon, Drake, is an excellent example.
Recently, Canadian streamer xQc has also had a ‘he-did-what?’ moment.
The former professional esports player– who has over 10.7 million Twitch followers – admitted to losing US$1.8 million gambling in April.
Sadly, he even admitted to addiction before somewhat backtracking later.
Punters remember: problem gambling can impact bettors of all income brackets. More money doesn’t necessarily mean more of a betting cushion.
2. Boyfriend hides winning $6.1 million ticket and heads for the hills
Jilted lover got a new meaning in 2017.
That’s when a pair of ex-lovers, Denise Robertson and Maurice Thibeault, found themselves in an enthralling legal case.
The Chatham, Ont. couple had lived together since 2015, regularly buying Lotto 6/49 tickets.
According to Robertson, the agreement was if they ever won, they would split the money. But when Thibeault bolted suddenly, Robertson thought it was peculiar.
Her ex made a run for it with the $6.1 million winning ticket. Robertson began to piece it together when she heard that Thibeault had quit his job from mutual friends.
The aftermath was a messy court battle that dragged on for years, with lawsuits flying in multiple directions.
Eventually, the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation had enough. It passed the money – and decision – off to the courtroom.
Talk about a mess.
1. Former lovers remain friends, split $44 million
On the opposite end of the bitter exes are Elizabeth and Arlene Lumbo.
Although divorced, the pair remained best friends, regularly playing the Lotto Max Jackpot together, searching for a jackpot.
Their perseverance paid off in 2021 when the former lovers took home a whopping $44,023,273.40. They split it evenly at $22,011,636.
As if that wasn’t adorable enough, the couples maintain a tight-knit relationship with their children.
When they won, the couple commented on wanting to buy multiple (nearby) properties. That way, the family would live in close quarters but in separate homes.
It’s wholesome, cute and heartwarming. OK – so maybe it’s not weird. But, at the very least, it is abnormal.
A story like this is undoubtedly notable in a culture prone to one-upping exes on social media. Not to mention the trend of scapegoating another’s toxicity for a failed relationship.
Then again, maybe that’s just my insecurity talking.
Kudos to the Lumbos in any case.