In early 2012, the US Department of Justice unsealed more indictments (akin to those unveiled on the Black Friday of Online Poker), aimed at four figureheads of the Bodog online poker and casino company. Bodog is by far the largest offshore internet gambling site to continue operating in the United States after PokerStars, Full Tilt and Absolute Poker were abolished from the nation by the DOJ in 2011. Now, two years after the indictments, with Bodog Entertainment founder Calvin Ayre and three other brand officials named in the case, prosecutors are pushing for extradition.
According to reports, US Attorney Richard Kay has presented a letter to US District Judge Catherine Blake, who is presiding over the case in Maryland. Sent out on Tuesday, the memo addressed the fact that the case has been ongoing, with no actions taken, so long. As such, Kay suggested that the next course of action should be extradition of the defendants in the case, which include Bodog founder Calvin Ayre, Controller and Chief of E-Commerce David Ferguson, Media Buyer Derrick Maloney and Accountant James Philip. He also noted that the federal government is continuing its pursuit of reaching a settlement in the case, but said that he feels an order for extradition would be complimentary to a resolution.
While it seems simple enough to have foreign authorities take Mr. Ayre into custody, put him on a plane in hand cuffs and deliver him to the Maryland courts, extradition isn’t as smooth sailing at it sounds. Kay was quick to admit that the extradition process would be a difficult one, especially with the defendants residing in jurisdictions like Antigua and Canada. The US Attorney said it could take “several years” for the process to come to fruition, and suggested that, “until there is a need for further proceedings”, the case be put on administrative hold.
When the indictments were unsealed against the Bodog directors in 2012, it almost seemed as if the company had been tipped off, or at the least had some foresight into the upcoming events. Just before the DOJ announced their intention to prosecute, seizing the online poker domain name (Bodog.com), the company had transferred its services to a new domain, Bodog.eu, and transferred all US player accounts to Bovada.lv.
Ayre has been very blatant in his assumption that he is under no threat from the US government. In 2006, the same year the UIGEA was passed, he exhibited no fear when he willingly partook in a feature publication by Forbes Magazine, brazenly titled, “Catch Me If You Can”. The article described how Ayre went from being the son of a pig farmer, to being the founder of a multi-billion dollar company that circumvented the law, and tax collectors, by launching an online sportsbook, casino and poker room from Costa Rica.
Later that year, Ayre sold his rights to Bodog Entertainment, but has since flaunted his lavish lifestyle, including beautiful women, fancy cars and a barrage of servants at his beckon call. His exact whereabouts are not known, but the online poker magnate is believed to be residing somewhere in Antigua, which further complicates the matter of his possible extradition. Antigua and the US are not on the best of terms, particularly in regards to their views towards online gambling legalities. Hence, the chances of Antigua officials handing over Ayre are about as slim as the Jacksonville Jaguars winning the Super Bowl this season.
If the extradition order were granted, and if Ayre and his cohorts just happened to travel to a jurisdiction that has an extradition treaty with the United States (Antigua does not), and if they were convicted of the charges brought against them in 2012 – that’s a lot of “ifs” – each of the men could be sentenced with up to 25 years in jail, while the Bodog Entertainment Group would face a $1 million fine.