Bodog entities targeted in Kentucky class action

Haley Hintze
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Posted on: August 14, 2023 6:38 am EDT

A new class action filed in Kentucky seeks damages from entities and persons that are part of the global Bodog family of online-gambling brands, citing losses on allegedly illegal services being offered to the state’s residents. The lawsuit, filed last Tuesday by Kentucky resident Billi Jo Woods, seeks compensatory and punitive damages under Kentucky’s Loss Recovery Act, the same antiquated law under which the state successfully wrested a $300 million settlement from Flutter Entertainment, the current owner of PokerStars.

Woods’ complaint alleges that she lost thousands of dollars during 2023 gambling on the US-facing Bovada website, including the domains,, and, through which the online-gambling services were allegedly advertised. The complaint names four defendants: Canadian firm Morris Mohawk Gaming Group, MMGG founder and CEO Alwyn Morris, Bodog founder Calvin Ayre, and Harp Media BV, a Curacao-based entity that the lawsuit claims also has an ownership interest within the Bodog/Bovada family.

Woods is represented by two firms, Mehr Fairbanks Trial Lawyers, PLLC of Lexington, Kentucky, and Bursor & Fisher, PA of New York, New York. The action seeks an unspecified sum from the defendants, based on discovery of how much money the would-be class members have gambled on the Bodog sites.

The action asserts that any judgment is expected to be in excess of $5 million. If certified, any Kentucky gambler who had wagered $5 or more on one of the Bodog sites in the last five years to be eligible to join the class action.

Kentucky Loss Statute resurfaces in complaint

The action was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky. It invokes the same Loss Recovery Act — also known as Kentucky Revised Statute § 372.010 — under which Kentucky won its settlement from Flutter in 2021. Flutter had inherited the Kentucky matter after acquiring The Stars Group’s financial responsibilities in a case that involved the original offering of services by PokerStars in Kentucky from 2006-2011.

The Kentucky-Flutter settlement resolved an existing $870 million judgment that had grown well over $1 billion with interest, as the two sides battled in Kentucky’s court system for nearly a decade. Kentucky’s Loss Recovery Act also calls for trebled damages, and the new class action seeks those trebled damages via jury trial.

The complaint asserts that Bodog and Bovada are advertised as being legal online-gambling services but, at least in Kentucky, are not. “Bovada has evaded the laws of Kentucky and other states,” the complaint states. “Bovada has advertised and presented itself to consumers in Kentucky as a legitimate online business. But this is false. In fact, Bovada is an illegal enterprise. Bovada’s online presence and advertising provided an aura of legitimacy and legality to Plaintiff and class members.”

The complaint also invokes a letter co-signed by 28 U.S. Congress members calling on Congress to crack down on unregulated offshore gambling sites. The letter was applauded by the American Gaming Association (AGA), which for years has called on the U.S. to initiate another “Black Friday”-style crackdown, especially targeting unregulated sports-betting sites.

Bodog has never sought formal U.S. approval

Whether or not the defendants in the case choose to appear in a U.S. court to battle the charges is an open question. Unlike PokerStars, Bodog has never sought any form of U.S. licensing or regulatory approval and has operated in an unregulated form ever since it was founded by Ayre in 2000.

Ayre was famously the subject of a 2006 Forbes feature story, “Catch Me if You Can,” that detailed Ayre’s and Bodog’s staunch defiance of the U.S.’s right to control international online commerce. Bodog created Bovada, Ignition Casino, and other corporate entities beginning in 2011, following the Black Friday crackdown, in what was widely believed to be an effort to shield Bodog’s benificial ownership structure from American authorities’ reach.

Later, the U.S.’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency even briefly listed Ayre among its ten most wanted international criminals.

Ayre, originally from Canada, also has citizenship in Antigua and Barbuda and has residences around the globe. Morris, of MMGG, is a resident of Quebec and MMGG is domiciled on the Kahnawake Reserve near Montreal. However, the Bodog/Bovada sites have not recently been run through Kahnawake-based online-gambling servers.