Nearly one year after an armed robbery of the Thornhill Social Club, the Toronto poker establishment was raided by law enforcement officials during the late night hours of Thursday, November 8th. There were a total of 61 people arrested in the raid.
After almost eleven months of investigation by the Toronto police department, a search warrant was executed and carried out at approximately 11pm by 60 armed officers. Confiscated in the raid were poker tables, decks of cards, poker chips, and an undisclosed amount of cash. And all 61 people in attendance at the time of the raid were arrested, issued with citations to appear in court on December 20th, and released. Fifty-three of them were charged with being found in a gaming house, eight were charged with keeping a common gaming house, and one person was additionally charged with cocaine possession.
Allegedly, the poker club was part of a much larger gambling ring that operated elsewhere, and the extensive investigation is said to have included police officers from Toronto, York, London, Durham, Windsor, Hamilton, Ottawa, and Ontario. No further information is being released at this time about the extent of the "gambling ring" or who exactly was involved.
Police became aware of the Thornhill Social Club after the robbery in late November of 2006. Two masked gunmen stormed into the poker club at approximately 3:45am, firing shots into the ceiling, then robbing and pistol-whipping the eighteen players, two of whom required medical attention after the incident. The assailants were thought to have fled in a silver SUV, and when said vehicle was pulled over, a gunman opened fire without injury and proceeded to lead police on a high-speed chase down a local highway. Shots were also fired during the chase, which is why police backed off and gunmen were able to escape.
Since the robbery, police have been investigating the poker club. Private games are illegal in Ontario if the house charges a fee or rake, and the Thornhill Social Club was suspected of doing so.
Detective Emilio DiPoce was quoted as saying that Texas hold'em is an "epidemic" and blamed televised poker for the increased popularity of the game and a rise in illegal games.