Posted: 2/29/2012 12:25:59 AM
BALTIMORE - (AP) -- The gambling website Bodog was shut down and four
Canadians were indicted, including founder Calvin Ayre, for illegal
gambling that generated more than $100 million in winnings, federal
prosecutors said Tuesday.
The website's domain name was seized Monday and the indictments, which were returned Feb. 22, were unveiled Tuesday in Baltimore, prosecutors said.
The indictments follow federal prosecutions last year of three of the
biggest websites involved in online poker. More than 75 company bank
accounts in 14 countries have been frozen, and authorities are seeking
$3 billion in fines and restitution, in that investigation.
In addition to the 50-year-old Ayre, prosecutors say the indictment names website operators James Philip, David Ferguson and Derrick Maloney.
Gamblers in Maryland
and elsewhere were sent a least $100 million by wire and check from
2005 to 2012, the U.S. Attorney's office said, adding Bodog conducted a
$42 million advertising campaign between 2005 and 2008 to attract
gamblers to the Bodog.com website.
The operation allegedly moved funds from Bodog's accounts located in Switzerland, England, Malta, Canada
and elsewhere to pay winnings to gamblers. The four Canadians face up
to five years in prison for conducting an illegal gambling business and
20 years for money laundering.
Bodog.com faces a fine of up to $500,000 for gambling and money
laundering. Initial appearances for the individuals have not been
Marcia Murphy, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney's office in
Baltimore, said the four are not in custody and no attorneys had
indicated by Tuesday afternoon they are representing the four or Bodog.
Spokeswoman Vickie LeDuc said later Tuesday that arrest warrants had
been issued for the four.
Ayre posted a statement on his website Tuesday saying that his company did not take U.S. bets.
"Bodog UK, Bodog Europe and Bodog Asia have never taken bets from the
US," the statement said. "The BodogBrand is currently consulting with
its legal advisers with a view to having the domain returned."
The statement also said the Bodog domain has not been in use since
operations were switched from Bodog.com to Bodog.eu by the Morris Mohawk
Gaming Group and The BodogBrand.com revoked its licensing agreement
with MMGG on Dec. 15.
In a statement on CalvinAyre.com, Ayre wrote, "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."
An affidavit filed along with the warrant to seize the site said
investigators created accounts with Maryland addresses and received
checks in the mail for winnings. The affidavit also said investigators
interviewed a former Bodog employee who named top officers and directors
and said the company had hundreds of employees in Canada and Costa Rica
handling day-to-day operations.
"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."
Prosecutors say the investigation was led by the U.S. Immigration and
Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations in Baltimore and
also involved the Internal Revenue Service, Anne Arundel County Police and Maryland State Police. HSI agents seized the domain name on Monday.
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