After years of not being able to step foot in the United States for fear of being apprehended by federal law enforcement, Bodog founder Calvin Ayre, a Canadian national with citizenship in Antigua, is no longer a wanted man. According to CalvinAyre.com, federal charges of money laundering conspiracy and illegal gambling against Ayre, Bodog, and three other Bodog officials have been dropped. And while that is great for Ayre, his website doesn’t tell the entire story. Flushdraw’s Haley Hintze is reporting that one charge was not dropped. Instead, Ayre pled guilty to one count of criminal misdemeanor charge of accessory.
Calvin Ayre has been one of the most outspoken online gaming executives in the industry, keeping a relatively high profile even after the U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland indicted him five years ago. He has just stayed out of the U.S. in order to maintain his freedom.
The charges stem from Bodog’s offering of online gambling services to U.S. players from June 2006 through January 2012. Even after Black Friday, when PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker, Absolute Poker, and UltimateBet either left the U.S. market or went under, Bodog continue to accept U.S. players and does to this day.
At the time of the indictments, $67 million in player funds that was on its way to customers in the U.S. was seized from third-party payment processors. Bodog will not get this money back. Fortunately, the company did repay affected players.
Bodog is also going to pay a $100,000 fine, but in exchange, it will receive the rights to its Bodog.com domain name, which was seized years ago.
What the CalvinAyre.com piece did not mention, but Hintze researched independently, was that Ayre did plead guilty to one count of misdemeanor accessory after the fact. As part of the plea deal, he is paying a $500,000 fine and is placed on probation for one year.
Thus, while it is definitely good news for Ayre and Bodog that the government dropped two of the charges, Ayre did not get off free and clear and still felt the need (under the advice of counsel, almost certainly) to plead guilty to one misdemeanor charge.
One thing I always found a little nuts was that Ayre was on the U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) “ten most wanted” list. Sitting on that list right now are human traffickers and child pornographers, yet ICE thought someone who let people play online poker ranked right up there with them. Ayre’s name has come off the list, so the jet-setting playboy can now touch down on U.S. soil if he would like.
Sounds like he won’t, though. CalvinAyre.com asked its namesake about it, to which he replied, “I don’t see this settlement changing anything, as I’m happy with my life the way it is. I’ll continue to focus on being an online gaming industry analyst, a tech investor and a philanthropist. But most importantly, I’m just going to continue enjoying life to the fullest.”