Feds Want Calvin Ayre Extradited to United States
For years, Bodog founder Calvin Ayre has been hiding while still remaining very visible on the internet. Now the U.S. government wants him hauled in to face the music. According to the Baltimore Sun, Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard C. Kay has stated his intent to have Ayre extradited to the United States to answer to charges filed against him in a 2012 indictment.
In the indictment, unsealed in the United States District Court for the District of Maryland in February 2012, Ayre, along with James Philip, David Ferguson, and Derrick Maloney, was charged conducting a gambling business and money laundering conspiracy. In the short, six-page indictment (it is dwarfed by the more famous Black Friday indictment), U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein wrote, in part:
Members of the conspiracy communicated with payment processors located in the United States and elsewhere and directed those payment processors to send funds by wire and by check to gamblers located
in Maryland and elsewhere. Two such payment processors were (a) JBL Services Inc., which processed at least $43 million for BODOG ENTERTAINMENT GROUP S.A., d/b/a BODOG.com, and (b) ZipPayments Inc., which processed at least $57 million for BODOG ENTERTAINMENT GROUP S.A.,
These transactions took place between June 9th, 2005 and January 6th, 2012. The indictment also indicates that Ayre and friends paid more than $42 to a media reseller to market to U.S. gamblers.
Since then, Ayre and the three other men have remained at large, unwilling to step foot on U.S. soil for fear of being apprehended. While his whereabouts are cloudy, Ayre has not exactly laid low, as he frequently writes articles for his / Bodog’s website, CalvinAyre.com.
At the time of the indictment, CalvinAyre.com published a statement from Ayre. It read, in part, “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.”
The Baltimore Sun reports that Assistant U.S. Attorney Kay made a filing in U.S. District Court Friday, the first filing in the Ayre case since the 2012 indictment. In the filing, Kay said that he and one of Ayre’s attorneys had reached an initial agreement in July to resolve the case, but never finalized the deal. “The parties intend to continue to try to find a resolution that will not require extradition of the defendants, but, in the meantime, I am pursuing extradition,” he wrote. “Because that process can take a number of years, I am respectfully suggesting that the case can be closed administratively until there is a need for further proceedings.”
While the Sun did not know for certain the identity of Ayre’s legal counsel, it said that reports have indicated that Barry and Stuart Slotnick, men that sound like they could been ripped from the pages of MAD Magazine, have been hired as his attorneys. The Sun contacted Barry Slotnick, and while he did not actually deny his involvement, he did not give the paper any information.
“This matter is still ongoing, and I think that it is appropriate for me to have no comment,” he told the Sun.
In the meantime, Calvin Ayre finds himself squarely amongst the top ten fugitives on the Department of Homeland Security’s “Investigations Most Wanted” list. Calvin Ayre, a guy who ran an online gambling site, is right up there a human trafficker, a child pornographer, cocaine traffickers and exporters, and a man who worked to export sensitive military technology. If you were wondering, Ayre is clearly the most put-together of the nine males on the list, as one would expect a billionaire, jet-setting, gambling playbody might be. U.S. government priorities at their finest.
Founded in 2000, one of the most interesting things about Bodog was its name, which seems fairly nonsensical. In a 2005 article, CanadianBusiness.com wrote that the name was the product of a carefully crafted branding strategy:
Ayre came up with it while typing potential brand names into an Internet domain-registration search engine one night. He chose the appellation like a major corporation would pick the name of a new car or brand of soft drink: it had to have six letters or less, be easy to spell and remember, have some personality and be unlike any competitor’s moniker. The last criterion was easy to fill since most of Bodog’s rivals prefer straightforward brand names such as PartyPoker.com or Sportsbook.com. “Those names are great, but they aren’t very portable if you want to expand into other entertainment industries,” says Ayre.
After the passing of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 (UIGEA), Ayre sold the Bodog gambling business to the Morris Mohawk Gaming Group (MMGG), while keeping control of the Bodog brand, which he then began licensing to other companies. MMGG’s licensing agreement was allowed to expire at the end of 2011, at which point the Bodog brand exited the U.S. market. Bodog remained alive in the U.S. in spirit, though, as MMGG transferred its American customers to Bovada.lv, which was essentially considered a new U.S.-facing Bodog site.