Canadian Authorities Show Their Stuff

28 August 1999
Last week’s Canada vs. Starnet escapade will go down as one for the ages. In the name of all that is good, roughly 700,000 Canadian police officers rode bravely into Vancouver on white horses to put an end to the terrible things happening at 425 Carrall Street. They came, threw their weight around a little bit, swept badness out of town and triumphantly rode into the sunset. Oh, and by the way, no charges were filed, and Starnet’s websites are still fully operational.

What can we take from this story?

We can now say that, in terms of their ability to understand technology, Canadian authorities are every bit as impressive as their counterparts to the south. Experts from Ottawa came in and performed a search that would make any proctologist proud, yet they couldn’t find enough wrongdoing to come up with criminal charges, in spite of an unnamed kiddy porn collecting employee who has since been dismissed. The company’s offices, as well as the homes of twelve company execs, were turned upside-down, and they were unable to find criminal activity. Of course, they can at least be proud that they managed to destroy the company’s stock and that their courageous mission earned them publicity in several North American newspapers.

What didn’t get printed in any of those newspapers, however, was that some of the key statements by Canadian authorities--the same magnificent geniuses who were high fiving each other because they were clever enough to infiltrate Starnet headquarters during an open house in June--were a bit off the mark. And IGN is keeping score.

First erroneous statement (by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police): that all of Starnet’s sites have been shut down. Perhaps they didn’t realize the servers running the games are in Antigua, or perhaps it was intended that no one would actually go online and check to see if this statement was true. In actuality, it was only the sportsbooks that were down, and they were only down for a few hours.

Second erroneous statement (by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police): that trading of Starnet’s stock would be suspended. Who knows where they came up with this one? It might have been better if they had, since tons of investors dumped it and took a huge loss.

Third erroneous statement (by a spokesperson for the Vancouver police): that authorities in Antigua are working with Canada on the investigation. According to Antigua Director of Offshore Gaming Gyneth McAllister, no one in Antigua has been contacted by Canadian authorities regarding the Starnet raid.

Amid the chaos, Starnet will attempt to ease back into business as usual and is prepared to deal with the impending charges, whatever they may be. "Although we have not received any communications from Canadian authorities charging Starnet, we would welcome this development and see it as an opportunity to gain better legal definition of online gaming," CEO Mark Dohlen said. "We also are fully confident that any charges stemming from this investigation will not have a material impact on Starnet. We welcome an expedited resolution of these matters and continue to cooperate with the authorities."

Dohlen also said that the company does not intend to abandon its plans to pursue a NASDAQ listing. "We have been in close contact with our financial partners and NASDAQ to ensure them there has been no material change in the company or in our objectives,” he said.

Here’s a quick recap on the score:

Number of incorrect statements made by Canadian authorities: at least three.

Number of illegal activities regarding Internet gambling found: zero.