Online poker players face legal issues - Wednesday 9th of August 2006

With the nightclub Tao swathed in red and black, music pulsated and go-go dancers gyrated on raised platforms along the wall. Everything from the "reserved" signs to the billiard table felt to the models Chinese-style dresses bore the same label: "bodog.com." The only thing missing was the online gambling sites flamboyant founder, 45-year-old Canadian Calvin Ayre, who was nowhere to be found.

"Hed have girls all around him and hed be the life of the party," said Ronn Torossian, a publicist and acquaintance familiar with Ayres celebrating ways.

The billionaire who graced Forbes magazines March cover decided to make himself scarce after federal authorities arrested David Carruthers, the head of rival Web gambling operator BetOnSports PLC, as Carruthers changed planes at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport on July 16.

A federal judge ordered BetOnSports to stop accepting bets placed from the United States, and prosecutors are seeking the forfeiture of $4.5 billion, plus several cars, recreational vehicles and computers from Carruthers and 10 other people associated with the Costa Rica-based gambling operation.

Around the same time, the U.S. House passed a bill that would ban most Internet gambling. Though the bills future in the Senate is uncertain, the issue loomed over the

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