Authorities pursuing extradition of gambling mogul Calvin Ayre

(Handout photo )
October 13, 2014|By Justin Fenton | The Baltimore Sun

More than two years after indicting a former online gambling mogul, federal prosecutors in Maryland say they continue to pursue his extradition on charges of running an illegal gambling business and money laundering.

The disclosure, made Friday in U.S. District Court in Maryland, is contained in the first filing in the case since Calvin Ayre, 53, and others associated with his Bodog.com operation were indicted in February 2012.

All four defendants remain at large, and Ayre — who is a Canadian citizen — is listed as one of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's "Most Wanted" fugitives

In the filing, Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard C. Kay asks for the case to be marked as administratively closed while extradition proceedings play out. Kay wrote that in July, he and a defense attorney had reached an agreement in principle to resolve the case but were unable to finalize it.

"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," wrote Kay, who added that Ayre is believed to be in Canada or Antigua. "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."

No attorney is listed in court records for Ayre.

But gambling industry sites reported he had hired attorneys Barry and Stuart Slotnick. Reached Monday, Barry Slotnick said he could not confirm his involvement or discuss the case.

"This matter is still ongoing, and I think that it is appropriate for me to have no comment," Slotnick said.

Ayre's Bodog brand was at one point the biggest in the world of online sports betting and casino games and propelled him to billionaire status. He appeared on the cover of Forbes magazine and among People magazine's "hottest bachelors."

The indictment alleged that Bodog and its conspirators moved at least $100 million from offshore accounts in Switzerland, England, Malta and Canada to bettors in Maryland and elsewhere, while paying $42 million for advertising to attract U.S. gamblers.

Transactions related to online gambling are illegal under the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006.

In recent years, a number of Internet crime cases targeting individuals and business outside of the state have been filed in U.S. District Court in Maryland, with federal authorities working within Maryland leading the investigations.

Internal Revenue Service investigators in Maryland had been examining Bodog.com since 2003, according to court documents, with immigration and customs officials joining a formal investigation in 2006.

Supporters say poker is an American pastime that remains easily accessible for players regardless of such restrictions and should be allowed and regulated in the United States.

Bodog's American site was switched to a European domain shortly after federal authorities shut down three major online poker sites in spring 2013. It was later shifted to a Latvian domain name. When a Sun reporter attempted to access the site Monday, a message said the company was "unable to provide services to residents of your current location."

After the charges were announced, Ayre denounced the case as an "abuse of the U.S. criminal justice system for the commercial gain of large U.S. corporations."

"It is clear that the online gaming industry is legal under international law and in the case of these documents, is it [sic] also clear that the rule of law was not allowed to slow down a rush to try to win the war of public opinion," he wrote in a statement on his personal web site, which continues to feature gambling news and features.

jfenton@baltsun.com


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