As if there hadn't been enough bad news already during the past couple of weeks with respect to online poker rooms, and article recently released on Forbes.com now claims that in the past 6 months, the U.S government has confiscated a total of $24 million from Bodog Poker; funds that were supposed to be paid out to Bodog customers.
According to Forbes, $14 million were confiscated in January and February 2008, not from Bodog Poker directly, but from 4 different banks - Wachovia, Regions Bank, Bank of America and Sun Trust Bank. In July 2008, a further $10 million were seized from the Nevada State Bank, after a payout check was issued to an undercover employee with ties to Bodog Poker.
The main target of the investigation seems to be Bodog founder Calvin Ayre, who is believed to currently be residing in Antigua and Barbuda. Although Ayre had transferred all control over his Bodog Entertainment Group to the Morris Mohawk Gaming Group 3 months ago, his flamboyant lifestyle has grabbed the attention of U.S officials. According to Forbes, there is already a secret investigation underway against Ayre, and by the looks of it, it will be quite some time before he can set foot on American or Canadian soil again.
Here is Bodog's statement regarding the investigation:
An article was recently released on Forbes.com that creates several misimpressions that the Morris Mohawk Gaming Group feels compelled to clarify for our customers.
As most of our customers already know, all operators outsource payment processing functions to third parties and these payment processors are subject to regulatory constraints wherever they operate, and, occasionally in the US, are subject to legal action because of the uncertain legal environment there.
However, the seizure of funds from these US payment processors was mischaracterized in this article, which refers to two specific legal cases against US processors. Rightly or wrongly, the article does not make a clear distinction between these cases, which, as a result, paints a misleading picture.
The facts are these: the first of these cases â€" relating to a seizure of funds from a processor known as JBL Services â€" happened some time ago and has absolutely nothing to do with the current payment processing challenges being experienced in the US. The constraints being experienced by payment processors in the US are universal in that region and not specific to any particular processor or site. Also, note that not one single player failed to get paid when this processor was disrupted.
The second case refers to a payment processor known as Zippayments.com and seizure of funds from this processor's bank accounts in Nevada. The article falsely implies â€" but notably does not go so far as to state - that $9.9M seized from Zippayment's Nevada bank accounts were funds on account for "Bodog". This is simply false.
Processing partners with whom the Morris Mohawk Gaming Group does business are sophisticated organizations that are perfectly clear as to the actual facts of these cases and their contexts. They are unfazed by such media hype and Morris Mohawk wishes to ensure that its customers are similarly informed. Customer deposits are safe and every player has and will always be paid.
Morris Mohawk Gaming Group