Yesterday, February 28th, the United States District Court for the District of Maryland unsealed an indictment against Calvin Ayre, the founder of Bodog. The news came just one day after the Department of Homeland Security seized the Bodog.com domain. Ayre along with his business partners James Philip, David Ferguson, and Derrick Maloney are charged with operating an illegal gambling business and money laundering.
According to federal prosecutors, Ayre and three other inductees have been running an illegal online gambling business from June 2005 to January 2012 thus violating Maryland law. “Sports betting is illegal in Maryland, and federal law prohibits bookmakers from flouting that law simply because they are located outside the country,” said U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein. “Many of the harms that underlie gambling prohibitions are exacerbated when the enterprises operate over the internet without regulation.”
The Bodog owners and shareholders are accused of exploiting international payment processors in a number of European countries and Canada to transfer at least $100 million both by wire and by check to Bodog customers in the state of Maryland as well as other locations. Two payment processors used by Bodog for money laundering were mentioned in the indictment, JBL Services Inc. and ZipPayments Inc. At least $43 million to U.S. gamblers was sent via JBL while another $57 million was processed through ZipPayments.
The U.S. legal authorizes claim to have received information about the company's illegal actions from a Bodog former employee who disclosed that Bodog has “hundreds of employees located in Canada and Costa Rica who handle the daily operations of taking bets, tracking sports events, customer service, website development, advertising and financial transactions.”
Immediately after the information about Bodog.com's seizure and Ayre's indictment was announced, regarding the matter Ayre issued his own statement:
“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.
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 US and it will not stop my many charity projects through my foundation.”
Another statement about the situation was issued by a Bodog representative:
“The BodogBrand became aware late on Feb. 27 that the domain Bodog.com had been seized by U.S. Homeland Security. This domain is not currently in use by the BodogBrand or any Brand Licensee and has not been in use since the Morris Mohawk Gaming Group (MMGG) switched its operations from Bodog.com to Bodog.eu in May 2011.
The BodogBrand.com revoked its licensing agreement with Morris Mohawk Gaming Group (MMGG) on Dec. 15, 2011, after publicly stating it would do so in July 2011. It is equally important to state that Bodog UK, Bodog Europe andBodog Asia have never taken bets from the US.
The BodogBrand is currently consulting with its legal advisors with a view to having the domain returned.”
In 2007 Ayre sold the Bodog brand to the Canada-based Mohawk Gaming Group, which then used the brand to run its own online gaming site until December of last year. On December 15th, 2011, the site was re-branded to Bovada.lv and continued providing online gaming services to U.S. players. Ayre resigned as the Bodog CEO in 2008. However, he now faces a five-year sentence for running a gambling business and another 20 years for money laundering.