After a top executive with the company that oversees the Great Blue Heron Casino made headlines for allegedly traveling to Yukon for a COVID-19 vaccine, the Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nation (MSIFN) are calling on the province to enhance its vetting procedure for gaming house operators.
After reportedly traveling from their home in Vancouver to Northern Canada last month to obtain a dose of a coronavirus vaccine, Rod Baker and his wife, Ekaterina, were both charged with violating the territory’s Civil Emergency Measures Act.
Both of the pair was charged with one count of failing to isolate for 14 days and one count of not adhering to the declaration form they signed when they entered the community. Each count carries a $500 fine, plus a surcharge of $75.
Baker was the president and chief executive officer of the Scugog Island casino’s Great Canadian Gaming Corp., which manages operations, until he suddenly resigned on Jan. 25.
The Scugog Island First Nation said in a Jan. 26 online post that it was “shocked and disgusted” by Baker’s alleged behavior to charter a private plane to the Yukon “to improperly receive a coronavirus vaccine that was intended only for the members of the White River First Nation.”
After media reports confirmed that Leon Black, the CEO of Apollo Global Management, paid almost $160 million over a five-year period to convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, the MSIFN also blamed the province for a lack of due diligence.
Recently, Apollo Global Management obtained shareholder approval to buy Great Canadian Gaming Corp. and the right to run the Great Blue Heron Casino. The MSIFN owns the Scugog Island gambling hall, but day-to-day operations are conducted by a third-party firm.
MSIFN Chief Kelly LaRocca said that “These companies, and the people who lead them, are entrusted with a great responsibility by our people. We were stunned to read reports about Mr. Baker and Mr. Black.”
Those revelations, the chief continued, have the Scugog Island First Nation wondering how much effort the province puts into investigating the companies it selects to operate casinos.
Chief LaRocca said that “The Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation selected these companies to operate our gaming facility. Our First Nation is very concerned about the vetting process that OLG undertook with Great Canadian Gaming and Apollo Global Management.”
The news reports about Baker and Black, added the chief, “speak to the need for gaming regulators to provide much more comprehensive oversight over those who hold positions of power and influence in the gaming sector in Ontario. The actions of both men undermine public confidence in gaming operators.”