US Indictment Against Bodog FounderBy: Fabian Rictor, Wednesday February 29th 2012
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Yesterday the US Department of Homeland Security had seized the defunct online gambling site Bodog.com. Bodog had been anticipating this move and had moved its licensees to other domains. The news today is more sensational. The federal prosecutors at Baltimore unsealed an indictment against Bodog founder Calvin Ayre and three other Canadians James Philip, David Ferguson and Derrick Maloney. The charge is that they operated an illegal online gambling business and conspired to commit money laundering.
The six page indictment was signed by Rod Rosenstein, the USA Attorney in Baltimore. It states that online gambling is illegal in Maryland and that Ayre and the others knowingly violated this law continuously from June 2005 to January 2012. The indictment explains in detail how the money laundering was carried out to receive funds from American players and pay them back. The amount of winnings paid by wire and check payments have been placed at least $100 million. Of this JBL Services processed at least $43 million and ZipPayments processed at least $57 million.
The indictment also refers to the hiring of media resellers and advertisers to promote online gambling. Ayre and Bodog ran a $42 million advertising campaign between 2005 and 2008 targeting online gamblers in the United States. Rosenstein also pointed out that online gambling operators located outside the country are not outside the purview of Maryland and the United States law once they service local players.
Calvin Ayre has responded to the indictment through his web site CalvinAyre.com. He alleged that the indictment documents were leaked to the Forbes magazine before they were filed and were "drafted with the consumption of the media as a primary objective". In fact it was Forbes.com that broke this story first. Ayre called this whole process "an abuse of the US criminal justice system for the commercial gain of large US corporations". The due processes of law were short circuited in order to win the war of public opinion.
CalvinAyre.com reports that federal undercover agents set up accounts at Bodog.com via an undercover computer in the State of Maryland. These agents would deposit funds through an e-wallet, gamble online and then withdraw out their winnings by check or Western Union. There is also a former Bodog employee involved who has passed on confidential information to the prosecutors.
Calvin Ayre said that the issues involved would be discussed with Bodog advisors and appropriate steps would be taken. But this indictment would have no affect whatsoever on Ayre's global businesses and charity projects that have nothing to do with the United States. Incidentally Ayre was the subject of a 2006 Forbes cover story titled Catch Me If You Can, in which he was projected as the High Hefner of online gambling.
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