US federal prosecutors have unsealed an indictment against Calvin Ayre, founder of the Bodog online sports betting and gambling business.
Ayre (pictured) is accused with three other Canadians, James Philip, David Ferguson and Derrick Maloney, of conducting an illegal gambling business and conspiracy to commit money laundering.
The company Bodog Entertainment, doing business as Bodog.com, is also under indictment after the Bodog.com domain, inactive since the licensing agreement with the Morris Mohawk Gaming Group expired in December, was seized by the Department of Homeland Security on Monday.
According to the six-page document unsealed today, “from at least on or about June 9 2005, through to at least January 6, 2012”, the accused used payment processors in the US and elsewhere and directed these processors to send at least US$100m by wire and by cheque to gamblers located in the US state of Maryland and elsewhere in the US.
US Attorney Rod J Rosenstein said in an accompanying press release: “Sports betting is illegal in Maryland, and federal law prohibits bookmakers from flouting that law simply because they are located outside the country. Many of the harms that underlie gambling prohibitions are exacerbated when the enterprises operate over the internet without regulation.”
The men are also accused of communicating by email with gamblers located in Maryland and elsewhere to convey instructions about how to collect winnings from gambling on the Bodog.com website, and also of paying “a media reseller” more than US$42m by wire transfer between 2005 and 2008 to execute an advertising campaign aimed at increasing the participation by gamblers in the US on the Bodog.com website. Funds were moved from accounts outside of the US – in Switzerland, England, Malta, Canada, and elsewhere – to accounts in the US in order to pay these media resellers and advertisers, US federal prosecutors allege.
Ayre’s active involvement with Bodog.com in the US is therefore alleged by federal prosecutors to have continued after the brand was licensed to the Morris Mohawk Group in September 2007, the year prior to his retirement as Bodog CEO. Players were however redirected to the Bodog.eu domain from Bodog.com on 23 May last year after US federal prosecutors embarked on a second wave of seizures weeks after the “Black Friday” indictments of individuals associated with PokerStars, Full Tilt and Ultimate Bet.
The Bodog Brand’s licensing agreement with Morris Mohawk was allowed to expire at the end of 2011. Bodog said the decision to withdraw its brand from the US market, coming just two weeks after brand-licensee Bodog UK received a licence from the UK Gambling Commission, had been taken “to ensure the brand’s expansion is not affected by negative perceptions.”
The Morris Mohawk Group rebranded its US-facing business under the Bovada.lv domain in December last year.
If convicted of the allegations, Ayre and his fellow indictees face a maximum sentence of five years on the count of conducting a gambling business and 20 years in prison on the count of conspiracy to commit money laundering. Bodog Entertainment, doing business as Bodog.com, faces a fine of up so US$500,000 on each of the two counts.