Bodog exec Calvin Ayre is a wanted man, it seems. And so are some of Ayre’s colleagues, according to the feds.
Federal prosecutors in Maryland are renewing their ambitions to have the owners of Bodog (Bovada) extradited to the US to stand trial for breach of the Wire Act and money laundering charges. US Attorney Richard Kay said this week, in a letter to the judge presiding over the Bodog case, that he was determined “to try to find a resolution that will not require extradition of the defendants,” but, he added, “in the meantime, I am pursuing extradition.”
Two years ago, a federal grand jury indicted Bodog founder Calvin Ayre, along with accountant James Philip, Controller and e-Commerce Chief David Ferguson, and media buyer Derrick Maloney, all Canadians, to stand trial for running an illegal sports betting operation from 2005 to 2012.
The “money laundering” charge relates to the movement of over $100 million, which was used to pay US winners and advertisers, from accounts in Switzerland, England, Malta, Canada, and elsewhere. Should they be extradited and convicted, the four could face five-year sentences for operating an illegal sports book, and 20 years for money-laundering.
Kay conceded that because the extradition process can take “a number of years,” the case should be “closed administratively until there is a need for further proceedings.” While Bodog was created under “Costa Rican” law, he added, the individuals are believed to be living in Canada and Antigua.
Ayre, who maintains that “the online gaming industry is legal under international law” and the indictments are “an abuse of the US criminal justice system,” is not in hiding and makes no secret of the fact that he resides in Antigua, where he enjoys a playboy lifestyle. And while the US government does have an extradition treaty with the tiny twin-island nation of Antigua and Barbuda, it is currently engaged in a longstanding trade dispute with the islands, which accuses the US of destroying its online gambling industry.
Ayre has always had a colorful relationship with US authorities. Following the passage of UIGEA in 2006, he sold the online sports betting arm of his business to the Canadian company Morris Mohawk Gaming Group (MMGG), while retaining the Bodog online poker sites, as well as the rights to the brand name.
However, in 2007, a US federal court seized the bodog.com domain, and gave IP rights of the brand to a patent troll called 1st Technology. When MMGG eventually reached a settlement with 1st Technology and regained the Bodog.com domain, Ayre terminated the MMGG deal and transferred its customers to the Bovada brand. In February 2012, US Immigrations and Customs Enforcement Agency seized the Bodog.com domain for alleged illegal gambling activities, despite the fact that it was inactive.
Despite Ayres’ dislike of the US authorities, Bovada recently pulled out of the newly regulated US markets, suggesting a respect for states that are willing to license and regulate online gambling.