Calvin Ayre, a Canadian who founded online-gambling company Bodog in 1994, was indicted by U.S. prosecutors in Baltimore for conducting an illegal business that generated more than $100 million in winnings.
Ayre, 50, and three other men are accused of conspiring to commit money laundering while conducting the business from at least June 2005 until Jan. 6, according to court papers unsealed today in Baltimore. Ayre and the men, all Canadian citizens, allegedly moved funds from Bodog’s accounts in Switzerland, England, Malta, Canada and elsewhere to pay winnings to gamblers and media brokers in the U.S.
“Sports betting is illegal in Maryland and federal law prohibits bookmakers from flouting that law simply because they are located outside the country,” U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein said in a statement.
A former employee of Bodog told prosecutors that the company had hundreds of workers in Canada and Costa Rica who handle the daily operations of taking bets, tracking sports events, customer service and financial transactions, according to a court filing.
Federal prosecutors also seized the Internet domain name bodog.com. Ayre and his co-conspirators paid more than $42 million from 2005 to 2008 for an advertising campaign to attract U.S. gamblers to the website, prosecutors said.
Not in Use
The domain name isn’t currently in use, Ayre’s BodogBrand said in a statement posted on Calvinayre.com. The domain had been licensed to Morris Mohawk Gaming Group since 2009. BodogBrand.com revoked the licensing agreement in December, according to the statement.
“Bodog UK, Bodog Europe and Bodog Asia have never taken bets from the U.S.,” according to the statement. “The BodogBrand is currently consulting with its legal advisers with a view to having the domain returned.”
If convicted, Ayre and his co-defendants face a maximum of five years in prison for conducting the gambling business and 20 years in prison for money-laundering conspiracy. The men aren’t in custody and no court appearances have yet been scheduled, Vickie LeDuc, a spokeswoman for Rosenstein, said.
Global gambling revenue climbed to a record $419 billion last year, according to U.K.-based Global Betting and Gaming Consultants. Interactive gambling accounted for 8.4 percent of global revenue, up from 8 percent in 2010, GBGC said.
The case is U.S. v. Bodog Entertainment Group SA, U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland (Baltimore).