Last Sunday evening, police in York Region, north of Toronto, raided a Super Bowl party in Markham, Ontario. But not just any party: a 2,300 person, invite-only party that authorities allege was a common gaming house hosted and run by a criminal organization.
Six people were arrested and charged with bookmaking, participating in a criminal organization, keeping a common gaming house, and conspiracy to commit an indictable offence. Nine other search warrants were executed on Super Bowl Sunday throughout the Greater Toronto Area. At the Markham party, police seized $2.5 million in cash, computers, and motorcycles and Seadoos that were being raffled off. One of the warrants turned up a large safe that was removed on a flatbed truck. In a move familiar to many Americans and US observers, the website through which the sports betting business was apparently run, www.platinumsb.com, was also redirected to a notice from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police stating that the site has been restrained by a Canadian court order granted to the Attorney General of Ontario.
When Calvin Ayre got indicted this past week, some were wondering what took so long … because if the DOJ couldn’t nab the brashest of online gambling kingpins (Bodog did sports-betting for chrissakes!) then there had to be a formula — a legal-enough way to run an online gambling empire while steering clear of America’s internet police.
Stu notes that the investigation leading to Bodog’s shutdown wasn’t singular in scope, and asks who might be next on the DOJ’s hit-list. The answer to that question, I believe, is in the indictment itself — and though they don’t name any magazine or website by brand, the DOJ does reveal that after more than five years of investigation they consider certain media part of a criminal conspiracy to facilitate illegal online gambling.
6.Through these communications, members of the conspiracy caused the media reseller to create and execute an advertising campaign to increase the participation by gamblers in the United States on the BODOG.com website.
7. Through these communications, members of the conspiracy caused the media reseller to send invoices to BODOG ENTERTAINMENT GROUP S.A., d/b/a BODOG.com. These invoices represented the costs and fees for the creation and execution of the advertising campaign.
8. Members of the conspiracy caused funds to be sent by wire from accounts located outside the United States to accounts located in the United States to satisfy the invoices sent by the media reseller. These wire transfers totaled more than $42 million during 2005 through 2008.
The entire world got a reminder about life, death, and nature this week … the Haiti earthquake gave us all at least a bit of pause to find ourselves, at least momentarily, caring about people we didn’t think we cared about.
With all the donating options out there — and the ever-present uncertainty over the difference between efficient humanitarian aid and exploitive charitable graft — I just wanted to weigh in and give a thumbs-up to one specific Haitian charity that I personally know does meaningful work AND has a little poker in its blood.
It’s called Project Medishare. They’re a bunch of doctors and volunteers who since 1995 have provided medical services, equipment, and training to some of the poorest villages in Haiti. Currently, they’re flying in trauma surgeons while helping coordinate relief with Haitian officials. And their chief blogger chronicling these efforts and helping drive online donations got her web-media start in poker.
Ahh, remember the good-ole-days when there were only like three stories at a time coming in on the Google News Alerts for “poker”, and only like three bloggers who had signed up for them? Me neither … it was never quite like that (but close) … and though I make no promises to keep this up on a daily basis, in an effort to inform the poker-news-hungry to the best of my abilities keep my open browser tabs to a minimum and my email backlog < 500, I will try to provide you some basic links to the plausibly worthwhile shizznit shaking down:
CardRunners and StoxPoker have joined forces to create a poker-training supersite. [PokerOnAMac.com]
Original PartyGaming honcho Anurag Dikshit — creator of some of the earliest online poker software — is one of three Indians to make Forbes’ list of 34 web-innovator billionaires … as well he should be. [MSNBC]
More on the Fed’s aggressive pursuit of Bodog — including criminal investigations on the company and Calvin Ayre. [Forbes.com]
Barney Frank has re-introduced the Payments System Protection Act, a revised version of HR 5767, which was shot down in his own committee earlier this year. [PokerNewsDaily]
Las Vegas visitation is down — to its lowest point since the start of the Iraq war. [Las Vegas Advisor]
And thus it only makes sense that LV gaming revenue is down — 14 percent this time — for the 7th consecutive month. [Forbes.com]
You know those new poker rooms popping up in Arizona? Well the Pascua Yaqui tribe doesn’t like them and is trying to get them shut down. (Funny: the mayor of Phoenix is named Phil Gordon.) [Zonie Report]
FUN RUMORS: Apparently Johnny Depp is quite the poker player, but he’s having a hard time getting alt/indie band We Were Scientists to pay up the $28k he beat them out of. (But all debts have been settled with Orlando Bloom, whom he supposedly beat out of $800k during the filming of Pirates of the Caribbean.) [Online Casino Advisory]
And in hardly related non-poker news … Sarah Palin’s teenage daughter‘s pregnancy … do we want to start this century off in a world where teens (sometimes) use birth control and occasionally have an abortion or one where we preach abstinence and then glorify/celebrate the shotgun wedding? The MySpace page of the potential VPson-in-law Levi Johnston: [NYPost via HuffingtonPost via Kevin Allen/Sun Times]
“I’m a fuckin’ redneck” who likes to snowboard and ride dirt bikes.
“But I live to play hockey. I like to go camping and hang out with the boys, do some fishing, shoot some shit and just fuckin’ chillin’ I guess.”
“Ya fuck with me I’ll kick [your] ass,” he added.
He also claims to be “in a relationship,” but states, “I don’t want kids.”
Perhaps we all have something to learn from a billion (Non-American) Indians. Not only did “these people” give us one of the founders of PartyPoker and hundreds if not thousands of terrible customer service reps, but also they made what is arguably the best condom commercial ever:
Reading this story makes a couple things “obvious” to me:
1. The US.gov is serious about the illegality of sports wagering online, as it really is the only thing clear in previous legislation.
2. Online poker sites that accept US players are having a hard time getting new players, because the American market is tapped out, and if you were a newly addicted European, why would you choose any site that runs into potential trouble from US.gov when you can play on super-legit home-continenters such as PartyPoker, Ladbrokes, 888, etc.? The exception to this, of course, are PokerStars (because they’re so damn big and have all the champions) and Full Tilt (because they have all the pros).
3. Pete Sessions’ HR 6663 really is a sensible piece of legislation in that it makes everything clear (even though it may not cow-tow to a few special-special interests): it spells out more clearly than anything else — sports betting on the internet is bad, online poker is fine, and other games need to be decided.
YouÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re in luck as Bodog has announced an open casting call for the sexy reality show Ã¢â‚¬Å“Calvin Ayre Wild Card Poker II.Ã¢â‚¬Â Twelve lucky individuals will be selected to compete on and off the felt for a cash prize of $1 million and a $1 million Bodog contract.
Hmmmm, this sounds like a pretty good deal if you like money, fame, poker sponsorships and want to live in a mansion for a month.
The open casting call will be held during the WSOP at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino running from July 5 Ã¢â‚¬â€œ 8 on the fabulous Las Vegas Strip.
Hurry and act fast as Pokerati Dan has serious designs on this competition.
The first WSOP poker-bloggy marriage is set to go down, between the “all over the place!” JEN LEO and Stone Temple Pilots roadie-cum-PokerNews editor JOHN CALDWELL. Word spread via AMY C … should make for a festive Day 1B of the WSOP main event.
There’s an interesting tournament going on at THE BIKE … the $10,000 Poker Netcast HEADS-UP CHALLENGE. GAVIN SMITH sucked out hard on CLONIE (J7 vs AJ — 7 on the turn, 7 on the river) to knock her out.
You’ve heard it here before (and will hear it again) … 2007 is all about RESPONSIBLE GAMBLING. Some worldwide initiatives are taking shape, though the US, of course, has opted to have no say in the matter.