Calvin Ayre, Canadian Billionaire, Indicted In U.S. On Illegal Gambling Charges

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CALVIN AYRE ILLEGAL GAMBLING CHARGES
Bodog gambling founder Calvin Ayre poses for a photograph on Tuesday, July 17, 2007 in Toronto. The sports gambling site was shut down and Ayre was indicted for illegal gambling that generated more than $100 million in winnings, federal prosecutors announced Tuesday. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette) | CP

BALTIMORE (AP) -- The sports gambling site Bodog has been shut down and four Canadians have been indicted, including founder Calvin Ayre, for illegal gambling that generated more than $100 million in winnings, U.S. federal prosecutors announced Tuesday.

The website's domain name was seized Monday and the indictments, which were handed down Feb. 22, were unveiled Tuesday in Baltimore.

Ayre, who's originally from Lloydminster, Sask., posted a statement on his website Tuesday saying his company did not take bets in the U.S, where financial transactions involving online gambling service providers are illegal.

"Bodog UK, Bodog Europe and Bodog Asia have never taken bets from the U.S.," 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 addition to the 50-year-old Ayre, prosecutors say the indictment names website operators James Philip, David Ferguson and Derrick Maloney.

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.

On Tuesday, that probe netted another Canadian: Ryan Lang pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges, saying he helped the poker companies arrange to circumvent U.S. laws meant to prevent banks from processing online gambling proceeds.

Lang says he carried out the crimes from 2007 to the middle of 2010, operating out of Canada to help financial brokers who made false statements to the banks in order to trick them into processing payments.

In the Bodog case, 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 alleges.

Bodog also conducted a $42 million advertising campaign between 2005 and 2008 to attract gamblers to the Bodog.com website.
The four face up to five years 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.

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