Illegal gambling hits Ontario high school, students threatened over debts: police

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How legalized online gambling in Ontario has impacted addictions trends
RELATED: It has been about 18 months since the Ontario government announced it was opening up the online gaming market in the province, a move which has led to a massive uptick in legal gambling among its 15.6 million residents. Global News spoke with experts about how this could impact the province as well as people's mental health and addictions. – Nov 30, 2023

Ontario Provincial Police are investigating reports of an illegal online gambling operation targeting youth in the city of Orillia after students reported being threatened over money they owed.

Provincial police in Orillia say they started investigating reports of an online gaming operation that allowed underaged students to sign up for a website called Topbets, place sports bets, and play casino-based games.

Matt Stoner, sergeant of the Orillia community mobilization unit, said in an interview they believe the situation is localized and involves students in at least one high school in the city.

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“We are looking to speak with any individual who can assist with the investigation, and then if there are any other victims because we only know of a few that are localized,” Stoner said.

Police say it is believed the site was available to all students, or anyone in the community.

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Several students reported being threatened due to unpaid gambling debts, police allege.

Stoner says one person under the age of 18 has been arrested and charged with two counts of uttering threats to cause death.

Police say it is believed there are other victims out there.

Anyone who would like to speak to an investigator about this investigation is asked to call Orillia OPP at 705-326-3536 or the Provincial Communication Centre at 1-888-310-1122.

Anyone struggling with gambling addiction can find resources by calling ConnexOntario at 1-866-531-2600 for more information.

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