Bodog.com Site Seized by US Government, Calvin Ayre Charged
Elizabeth | United Kingdom | Wednesday 29th February 2012, 09:26 | 0 Comment
The US Department of Homeland Security has gone after another site and its founder-- this time Bodog.com and Calvin Ayre, a former Forbes billionaire and contender for most eligible bachelor throughout US media. The curious thing about this particular seizure, however, is that the site hasn't been operational for nine months, so the US government isn't shutting down a site so much as they are flaunting their power and taking it because they can. A federal grand jury in Maryland indicted Ayre along with James Philip, Derrick Maloney, and David Ferguson on February 22nd.
After the events of Black Friday, Ayre and the rest of Bodog Poker decided that they wanted to get as far away from the US market as possible, lest the fates of PokerStars, Absolute Poker, and Full Tilt rain down on them as well. They created bodog.co.uk and bodog.eu for European clients and stopped doing business with US clients completely (so they claim). Now it's a bit of a he-said she-said, as the US government says that Bodog Poker continued to interact with US clients by paying them through bank accounts in Europe, Canada, Malta, and other places. Ayre vehemently denies this, claiming that these charges are ridiculous and that this is an “abuse of the US criminal justice system for the commercial gain of large US corporations.”
The indictment states that at least $100 million in funds were wired to online poker players in Maryland (among other places) between 2005 and 2012, and that Bodog spent $42 million on an advertising campaign geared at drawing new players to the site. The four face charges of illegal gambling and money laundering, which carry penalties of five years and twenty years of jailtime, respectively.
According to the paperwork in the case, investigators posed as players, using Maryland addresses, to see if they could get checks via mail (they did), and conducted interviews with Bodog employees and former employees to get a better understanding of the company's operations. The affidavit filed with the warrant includes information from a former employee that the company has hundreds of employees in Costa Rica and Canada who are working specifically to launder money into the US. The heart of this matter can probably best be summed up by 's official statement: “Sports betting is illegal in Maryland, and federal law prohibits bookmakers from flouting that law simply because they are located outside the country.”
Who's telling the truth? It's hard to say. Ayre's rant against large US corporations neglects to mention that he's the frontman of a large corporation as well, and lately, online poker sites seem to have a reputation for some shady dealings. Granted, the US government has also received no small amount of criticism for its tactics in dealing with banks, poker sites, CEOs and players alike. Time will tell if Bodog Poker is getting “special treatment” from the US government, or if their company name should be added to the ever-growing list of companies that tries to push the boundaries for a profit and eventually pushed too far.
Maxpokerbonus.co.uk will bring you more updates on this and other news stories as developments arise.
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