U.S. finally indicts Bodog, Calvin Ayres and three associates

A federal grand jury in Baltimore, Maryland, has indicted Bodog Entertainment Group S.A., which is doing business as Bodog.com and four Canadians for conducting an illegal sports gambling business and conspiring to commit money laundering.

The case involves sports betting handled in Costa Rica.

Indicted is former Costa Rica resident Calvin Ayres, 50, and his associates James Philip, 58, David Ferguson and Derrick Maloney.

The indictment was returned on Feb. 22 and unsealed Tuesday.

The two count indictment alleges that from at least June 9, 2005 to January 6, 2012 the defendants conducted an illegal gambling business involving online sports betting. The defendants and their conspirators allegedly moved funds from Bodog’s accounts located in Switzerland, England, Malta, Canada and elsewhere to pay winnings to gamblers, and to pay media brokers and advertisers located in the United States. The conspirators directed payment processors to send at least $100 million by wire and by check to gamblers located in Maryland and elsewhere.

According to the indictment, the four men caused a media broker to execute an advertising campaign to attract gamblers
in the United States to the Bodog.com website. From 2005 to 2008 Bodog allegedly paid over $42 million in costs for the advertising campaign, the indictment said.

According to the affidavit in support of a seizure warrant, an ex-employee of Bodog stated that Bodog has hundreds of employees located in Canada and Costa Rica who handle the daily operations of taking bets, tracking sports events, customer service, Web site development, advertising and financial transactions. The ex-employee also identified Bodog’s top level officers and directors.

A warrant was executed seizing Bodog’s Web site domain name.

The individual defendants face a maximum sentence of five years in prison for conducting a gambling business; and 20 years in prison for the money laundering conspiracy. Bodog.com faces a maximum fine of $500,000 on each of the two counts. The initial appearances of the individual defendants have not been scheduled.

Ayres was a flashy resident when he lived in Costa Rica. He left in 2008 when the federal government was closing in on offshore gambling sites. He claimed at one time that he had become a billionaire through online gambling.

He usually traveled with bodyguards and gave lavish parties at a mansion in Santa Ana.

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