US Indicts Bodog Founder, And Online Gambling Mogul Calvin Ayre
Calvin Ayre has been vocal in his insistence that he had found ways to avoid prosecution in the US regarding his online gambling business. Ayre has been adamant and flaunting of his beliefs that he had beat the system in a country that has been steadfastly opposed to any form of online sports betting.
On Tuesday, Ayre's string of good luck finally ran out. Federal prosecutors in Baltimore unsealed an indictment against Ayre and his former company, Bodog. The indictment charges Ayre with operating an illegal online gambling business and conspiracy to commit money laundering. The billionaire is not in custody yet, and is said to be in his native Canada.
The Bodog domain name has been seized, much like Full Tilt Poker, Absolute Poker, and PokerStars were seized last April. The three online poker sites were considered to be among the largest in the world, and the indictment handed down against them virtually crippled the companies financially.
Like the three poker sites before it, Bodog will have to face the possibility of no longer doing business in the US. The company had already started preparing for such a moment in time when they started re-branding the name to Bovada. Ayre has stated in recent months that he no longer is in control of the company, and that the Morris Mohawk Gaming Group now controls the Bodog brand.
Maryland has become a hotbed for online gambling indictments. Federal prosecutors, according to several reports, had been building the case against Ayre for years. The indictment could be a direct response to the Department of Justice clarifying last December that under the 1961 Wire Act, sports betting is the only form of online gambling that is illegal in the US.
"Sports betting is illegal in Maryland, and federal law prohibits bookmakers from flouting that law simply because they are located outside the country," said Rod Rosenstein, the US Attorney that issued the indictment. "Many of the harms that underlie gambling prohibitions are exacerbated when the enterprises operate over the Internet without regulation."
The regulation issue is one that current federal lawmakers have been searching for an answer to over the past year. Since US citizens have been in an outrage over the online poker indictments, dozens of legislators have pushed for regulation within the online gambling industry. Senator Harry Reid chose not to insert Internet gambling regulation language in a must pass payroll tax cut bill earlier this year, leaving many analysts to predict the issue would be dead for 2012.
Foreign companies had operated under the assumption that since they were regulated in other countries, they were permitted to offer online gambling services to US customers. That assertion changed after the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act was created in 2006. In the years since the UIGEA, many foreign companies have pulled out of the US market with the hope of re-entering if the current laws change.
Over the past year, companies such as 888 Holdings have started to partner with US-based gaming companies with the hope of gaining an online gambling license when the federal laws change. Nevada lawmakers expedited the licensing process when they became the first state to pass legislation regulating Internet gambling. The state has been accepting application for online gaming licenses for the past few months.
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