Gambling site Bodog seized by U.S. authorities

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Gambling site Bodog seized by U.S. authorities

From Comcast SportsNet
BALTIMORE (AP) -- The sports gambling site Bodog was shut down and four Canadians indicted, including founder Calvin Ayre, for illegal gambling that generated more than 100 million in winnings, U.S. prosecutors announced Tuesday. The website's domain name was seized Monday and the indictments, which were returned Feb. 22, were unveiled Tuesday in Baltimore, prosecutors said. The indictments follow federal prosecutions last year of three of the biggest websites involved in online poker. More than 75 company bank accounts in 14 countries have been frozen, and authorities are seeking 3 billion in fines and restitution, in that investigation. In addition to the 50-year-old Ayre, prosecutors say the indictment names website operators James Philip, David Ferguson and Derrick Maloney. Gamblers in Maryland and elsewhere were sent a least 100 million by wire and check from 2005 to 2012, the U.S. Attorney's office said, adding Bodog conducted a 42 million advertising campaign between 2005 and 2008 to attract gamblers to the Bodog.com website. The operation allegedly moved funds from Bodog's accounts located in Switzerland, England, Malta, Canada and elsewhere to pay winnings to gamblers. The four Canadians face up to five years in prison for conducting an illegal gambling business and 20 years for money laundering. Bodog.com faces a fine of up to 500,000 for gambling and money laundering. Initial appearances for the individuals have not been scheduled. Marcia Murphy, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney's office in Baltimore, said the four are not in custody. Spokeswoman Vickie LeDuc said later Tuesday that arrest warrants had been issued for the four. An affidavit filed along with the warrant to seize the site said investigators created accounts with Maryland addresses and received checks in the mail for winnings. The affidavit also said investigators interviewed a former Bodog employee who named top officers and directors and said the company had hundreds of employees in Canada and Costa Rica handling day-to-day operations. "Sports betting is illegal in Maryland, and federal law prohibits bookmakers from flouting that law simply because they are located outside the country," said U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein. "Many of the harms that underlie gambling prohibitions are exacerbated when the enterprises operate over the internet without regulation." Prosecutors say the investigation was led by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations in Baltimore and also involved the Internal Revenue Service, Anne Arundel County Police and Maryland State Police. HSI agents seized the domain name on Monday.

MLB players' union agrees to pitchless intentional walks

MLB players' union agrees to pitchless intentional walks

NEW YORK - There won't be any wild pitches on intentional walks this season.

The players' association has agreed to Major League Baseball's proposal to have intentional walks without pitches this year.

"It doesn't seem like that big of a deal. I know they're trying to cut out some of the fat. I'm OK with that," Cleveland manager Terry Francona said.

While the union has resisted many of MLB's proposed innovations, such as raising the bottom of the strike zone, installing pitch clocks and limiting trips to the mound, players are willing to accept the intentional walk change.

"As part of a broader discussion with other moving pieces, the answer is yes," union head Tony Clark wrote Wednesday in an email to The Associated Press. "There are details, as part of that discussion, that are still being worked through, however."

The union's decision was first reported by ESPN .

"I'm OK with it. You signal. I don't think that's a big deal," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "For the most part, it's not changing the strategy, it's just kind of speeding things up. I'm good with it."

There were 932 intentional walks last year, including 600 in the National League, where batters are walked to bring the pitcher's slot to the plate.

"You don't want to get your pitcher out of a rhythm, and when you do the intentional walk, I think you can take a pitcher out of his rhythm," Girardi said. "I've often wondered why you don't bring in your shortstop and the pitcher stand at short. Let the shortstop walk him. They're used to playing catch more like that than a pitcher is."

Agreement with the union is required for playing rules changes unless MLB gives one year advance notice, in which case it can unilaterally make alterations. Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred expressed hope Tuesday that ongoing talks would lead to an agreement on other changes but also said clubs would reserve the right to act unilaterally, consistent with the rule-change provision of the sport's labor contract.

Some changes with video review can be made unilaterally, such as shortening the time to make a challenge.

"I know they were thinking about putting in a 30-second (limit) for managers to make a decision," Francona said. "I actually wish they would. I think it would hustle it up and if we can't tell in 30 seconds, maybe we shouldn't be doing it anyway."

Blakely: Jae Crowder is more than 'just another guy' on Celtics

Blakely: Jae Crowder is more than 'just another guy' on Celtics

As the NBA trade deadline gets closer and closer, A. Sherrod Blakely helps shed some light as to why the Boston Celtics may be unwilling to part ways with Jae Crowder