Kevin John Pinto, also known as the “Exchange bandit”, was a Canadian financier operating out of Bay Street, Toronto. Though he now serves time at Collins Bay Institution (a mid-level security correctional facility located in Kingston Ontario) for robbing banks, he still battles the urge to bet on sports in Canada. So sever is his gambling addiction, that the first call he made upon being arrested was neither to loved one or lawyer, but rather to his sports bookie to place wager.
Describing his “out of control” addiction, Pinto stated “Some people jump out of airplanes and parachute. Some people do whitewater rafting. For me it was watching sports on TV and gambling on sports…. In a sense I’m glad I’m in prison, because if I wasn’t in prison I would still be out there, probably gambling and probably committing crimes.”
Although Pinto earned an annual salary of “roughly a quarter million dollars” working at the Paradigm Capital investment firm, he turned to bank robbery to cover growing gambling debts taken on after borrowing money from cash-advance outlets. Pinto robbed (and confessed to robbing) ten banks within Toronto and the Peel Region between January 2002 and September 2008. Although he only scored $33,000 throughout the bank robberies, at the time he was sentenced his gambling debts transcended $100,000.
He earned the nickname “Exchange Bandit” for asking bank tellers the U.S. exchange rate before slipping the hold-up notice. Pinto declared during his first robbery “I tried not to look at the tellers because I didn’t want to see the fear in their eyes. I do remember one of the tellers’ hands shaking as she was trying to get the money…. At that point in time I was numb. I just wanted the money for myself, and get out of there as quick as I could. But when you have an [gambling] addiction you’re just looking for the next high, just like a drug addict would be.”
Pinto took to leading a double life. After working 12-hour days, he would have dinner and drinks and watch a game at night. He would place bets on online sportsbooks in Canada or over the phone with sports bookies in Jamaica and Costa Rica.
Pinto’s gambling addiction cost him both his marriage and his job. He laments “I’ve lost the trust of my family…. Basically I’ve got to earn the trust back of everyone. And I know it’s going to be a long road, it’s going to be a hard road, but I’ve taken the first step and that’s being honest with myself and facing the problem head on.”
Pinto now offered an opinion towards Canadian gambling laws since Ontario’s liberal government intends to offer internet gambling next year. Pinto stated Ontario’s online gambling will be “a cash cow for the government…. The problem comes in when you have crimes arising from people who are addicted and getting addicted to gambling….. I never thought I would grow up to be a bank robber and be a gambling addict, no.”