02/28/2012 : HIGH PROFILE ONLINE GAMBLING BUSINESSMAN INDICTED IN UNITED STATES
Bodog founder and three other Canadians the subject of a federal indictment but remain at large and outside the United States
Baltimore federal prosecutors unsealed an indictment against Bodog founder and former high profile internet gambling executive Calvin Ayre Tuesday, alleging that he and three other Canadians operated an illegal gambling business involving sports betting and conspired to commit money laundering.
Forbes.com was first out with the story, which named the other indictees as James Philip, David Ferguson and Derrick Maloney. Other mainstream, news agency and industry media soon picked up on the story, which follows closely on the seizure of the Bodog.com domains yesterday.
"For years Ayre taunted and dodged U.S. law enforcement, specializing in offering online sports betting and casino games to U.S. gamblers. He was the subject of a 2006 Forbes cover story titled Catch Me If You Can, in which he said ‘we run a business that can’t actually be described as gambling in each country we operate in. But when you add it together, it’s Internet gambling,'" Forbes reported.
The publication goes on to describe Ayre's background, claiming that he tried to market himself as ‘a kind of High Hefner of online gambling.'
Rod Rosenstein, the U.S. Attorney in Baltimore, also named the Bodog Entertainment Group in the six page indictment, which alleges that Ayre worked with Philip, Ferguson and Maloney to supervise an illegal gambling business from June 2005 to January 2012 in violation of Maryland law.
The indictment focuses on the movement of funds from accounts outside the U.S., in Switzerland, England, Malta, and Canada, and the hiring of media resellers and advertisers to promote Internet gambling.
“Sports betting is illegal in Maryland, and federal law prohibits bookmakers from flouting that law simply because they are located outside the country,” Rosenstein said in a statement. “Many of the harms that underlie gambling prohibitions are exacerbated when the enterprises operate over the Internet without regulation.”
The indictment claims in some detail that Ayre conspired to direct at least $100 million in sports gambling winnings by wire and by check to gamblers, working with payment processors located both in the U.S. and elsewhere, such as JBL Services, which processed at least $43 million, and ZipPayments, which processed at least $57 million.
Prosecutors also allege that Ayre and Bodog caused an unnamed media broker to launch a $42 million advertising campaign between 2005 and 2008 to attract gamblers in the United States to the Bodog.com website.
For his part, Ayre has claimed that he has retired and transferred the Bodog brand via franchise to the Morris Mohawk Gaming Group, which is located on the Kahnawake territory near Montreal. Bodog itself has changed its branding in the U.S. to Bovada.
The federal indictment can be viewed here: https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/321448-bodog-indictment.html
Ayre used his website Calvin Ayre.com to launch an immediate response, saying:
“These documents were filed with Forbes magazine before they were filed anywhere else and were drafted with the consumption of the media as a primary objective.
“We will all look at this and discuss the future with our advisors, but it will not stop my many business interests globally that are unrelated to anything in the U.S. and it will not stop my many charity projects through my foundation.
“I see this as abuse of the US criminal justice system for the commercial gain of large US corporations. It is clear that the online gaming industry is legal under international law and in the case of these documents is it also clear that the rule of law was not allowed to slow down a rush to try to win the war of public opinion."
Ayre's website reports that federal undercover agents set up Bodog.com accounts via an undercover computer in the State of Maryland. The undercover agents would deposit through an e-wallet, gamble on sports and then cash out their winnings via check or Western Union withdrawal.
Federal investigators are also relying on a former employee who was acting as a confidential informant during July 2010, who named the top directors and explained how the group allegedly operated.
Meanwhile, industry speculation has grown that one of two men facing money laundering charges lodged in 2008 in Maryland may have assisted federal agents in their investigations.
Articles in the Boston City newspaper reported PACER court filings which suggested this may be the case, but in 2009, a year after filing, the documents disappeared from public records. Despite the newspaper's requests for an explanation, the U.S. Attorney's Office in Maryland ‘remained mum about what happened.'