BC Liberal MLA invests in BC Lottery Corp. competitor

Provincial public disclosure updates show lawmakers involved in real estate deals


A BC Liberal MLA invested in a grey market online gambling company that competes with a B.C. Crown corporation, according to documents obtained by Business in Vancouver.

Material changes to 2015 public disclosure statements filed by Jordan Sturdy (West Vancouver-Sea-to-Sky) show that he bought an unspecified amount of shares in Amaya Corp. (TSX:AYA) last December 18. The Montreal company’s holdings include online poker giant PokerStars and the StarsDraft daily fantasy sports website.

On October 18, Amaya said its merger talks with U.K. bookmaker William Hill (LON:WMH) collapsed. Amaya's chair is Dave Gadhia, the former CEO of Burnaby-based Gateway Casinos. Under the Criminal Code, provinces have sole jurisdiction over the licensing of gambling operations. The BC Lottery Corp.’s PlayNow.com website is B.C.’s only legal gambling website.

Sturdy, a parliamentary secretary to Environment Minister Mary Polak, did not respond to BIV interview requests.

“If nothing else, it reflects poor judgment on the part of a parliamentary secretary to be involved with a grey market gambling company in this way,” NDP gambling critic David Eby said. “I don’t understand why he would think it would be appropriate to profit from grey market activities in B.C., but that’s the personal judgment I guess he has made.”

Last December, a judge in Kentucky ordered Amaya to pay US$870 million in fines for allowing 34,000 gamblers in that state to play on PokerStars for five years after the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006. Amaya is appealing.

Sturdy’s forms show that he also bought shares in GE (NYSE:GE )and Uranium Energy Corp. (NYSE:UEC) (August 25, 2015), IBM (NYSE:IBM) (October 27), Spectra7 Microsystems (TSX:SEV) (December 24), Alphabet and Google (Nasdaq:GOOGL) (January 4, 2016), Facebook (Nasdaq:FB)  (January 7), First Mining Finance (TSX-V:FF) and Brazil Resources (February 8) and Mylan (Nasdaq: MYL) (May 4).

Sturdy was among two dozen MLAs who updated their disclosure forms since last fall. Several reported real estate transactions.

Eby, who is also the NDP’s housing critic, disclosed the sale of residential property in Vancouver on February 18 and the subsequent disposal of a loan (March 1) and mortgage (March 18).

The Vancouver-Point Grey MLA said he sold a 535-square-foot apartment that was no longer suitable for his wife and their one-year-old boy. He said they now rent a two-bedroom market-priced apartment in Wesbrook Village.

“It’s really frustrating how few two- or three-bedroom rental units there are in the city,” Eby said. 

NDP small-businesses critic Jane Shin’s form mentions the purchase of a residential property with a friend. The Burnaby-Lougheed MLA told BIV that was a pre-sale condo purchase near the Marine Drive SkyTrain station made before she was elected in 2013. She updated the disclosure when the project was completed last fall.

Green Party leader Andrew Weaver sold two mortgaged residential properties on Temple Street and Stanford Avenue in Parksville and bought another on Bank Street in Victoria last fall. 

“We had a lot of mortgages, and we don’t now,” Weaver said. “We were going to retire up there; now we’re going to retire in Victoria; that is our plan.”

Surrey-Panorama BC Liberal MLA Marvin Hunt explained he began the process of subdividing his former, 1987-purchased principal residence seven years ago while he was a Surrey city councillor. Three of the properties sold last year.

Delta North BC Liberal MLA Scott Hamilton sold residential property on which he built a house in North Delta on February 1 and paid off the residential building loan on the same day. NDP forestry critic Harry Bains sold his Main Street Whistler condo on April 14.

Meanwhile, in other transactions, West Vancouver-Capilano Liberal Ralph Sultan sold his 34-foot trawler in March, and NDP leader John Horgan disposed of mutual funds and RRSPs and acquired others in Integrity Fossil Free and Integrity Divestment Balanced portfolios from Wolverton Securities. NDP transportation critic Claire Trevena bought shares in Visa (NYSE:V) and Walt Disney Co. (NYSE:DIS).