The sudden seizure of the Bodog.com domain name late Monday night was not so sudden, Gambling911.com can reveal, nor was it exactly easy to achieve.
The US Attorney’s Office in Maryland, which was responsible for a series of online gambling company domain seizures last May, had been probing Bodog and the company’s colorful founder, Calvin Ayre, since 2003.
It wasn’t until the Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act (UIGEA) got passed in late 2006 that the office “kicked a formal investigation into gear”, according to an affidavit filed by Internal Revenue Service criminal investigator Randall S. Carrow.
Sources close to Gambling911.com suggest that the US Attorney's Office may have been considering seizing the Bodog.com domain during Super Bowl Sunday but could not obtain a seizure affidavit in a timely fashion. While dormant, the Bodog.com name was still receiving over 4000 searches per month on average through Google.
Federal authorities in Maryland in October of 2008 filed money-laundering charges against two men who processed payments for Bodog.com at the time, Edward Courdy and Michael Garone. One of these two individuals is widely rumored to have helped set up a notorious sting operation on behalf of the Maryland US Attorney’s office that netted millions of dollars in online gambling proceeds over a nearly two year period, primarily from the now defunct BetED.com (or as some people call them “BetDEAD.com”).
Garone in particular was known to be a cooperating witness in the case against Bodog. Court filings were uncovered by the Baltimore City Paper using the legal online database of PACER. Those records mysteriously disappeared thereafter.
Some time in the fall of 2009, a little over a year after they were filed, the online records of the cases against them disappeared from the federal court-records database system, known as Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER). Since Maryland's federal courts handle only electronically filed documents, PACER is the only repository of its records. The disappearance from PACER of Maryland criminal case numbers 08-454 (against Courdy) and 08-455 (against Garone), creates the illusion that they were never filed at all--though City Paper still has copies of the documents charging them, which bear Rosenstein's signature. Despite City Paper's requests for explanation, the U.S. Attorney's Office in Maryland has remained mum about what happened.
It was around the time of this disappearance that the phony Linwood Payment Solutions company was set up by the US Attorney’s Office.
Public documents available in the Maryland-based Bodog investigation in 2010 showed the lead agency overseeing the operative to be the U.S. Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigations Division, whereas in the recent bank-account seizures, U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) law enforcers are submitting the court filings.
Bodog announced last summer it would be offering a new branding concept to its US player base by year’s end. The site abruptly switched over to a new domain, www.bovada.lv some time in November.
Gambling911.com has learned that the US Attorney’s Office out of Baltimore plans to issue a press release on Tuesday regarding Monday’s seizure of the Bodog.com domain name. It is believed that the agency was told the domain would take 48 hours to propagate to the US Justice Department, however, that process occurred more quickly than was expected, ahead of any statements being issued by that department.
It is understood that former executives from the company are to be named in the formal complaint that accompanies this seizure. Details of any related charges were not immediately known.
A representative from the Bodog Brand Group advised Gambling911.com early Tuesday morning that, while the Bodog.com domain name has been dormant now for several months (Bodog.com had been redirecting to Bodog.eu prior to the switch to Bovada.lv), Bodog Brand attorneys were looking for ways to have the domain returned.
- Chris Costigan, Gambling911.com Publisher