Online Gambling Fugitive Haden Ware Spared Prison

Posted on: May 10, 2016, 01:28h. 

Last updated on: February 20, 2017, 08:43h.

Haden Ware Spared Prison
A young Haden Ware at the WSEX offices in Antigua. He received a lenient sentence from a federal judge this week after 13 years on the run. (Image:

Haden Ware, a co-founder of sports betting site World Sports Exchange (WSEX) who spent 13 years as a fugitive from the US government, has been spared a prison sentence by a federal judge.

Ware was a pioneer of online gambling through his establishment of Antigua-based WSEX, one of very first sports betting sites, and for some time one of the most successful. But in 2002, he was indicted by US authorities for violation of the Federal Wire Act, for taking bets from Americans illegally over the internet.

Ware, 41 and originally from Boston, returned to the US to face the music in January. It was the first time he had set foot on US soil since he quit his job at the Pacific Stock Exchange in San Francisco to found WSEX 20 years ago.

Prodigal Son

Ware told U.S. District Judge William Pauley of the US District Court of Manhattan that he was “extremely grateful to cast that weight behind me and move forward past it.”

“Why you waited so long to come back to the United States, only you know,” said Pauley, who sentenced him to six months’ probation. “But I sympathize with the fact that this hung around your neck all these years.”

Another WSEX founder, Jay Cohen, was indicted by the government in 1999 and returned to the US a year later, believing that he could argue his case and prove that WSEX operations were legal. It turned out to be a miscalculation for Cohen who was sentenced to 17 months in prison, receiving the dubious honor of becoming the first online gambling operator to be prosecuted under the Wire Act.

A third founder of WSEX, Steve Schillinger, was found dead, an apparent suicide, in 2013, the day after the company went under.

A Problem Ayred

On the subject of fugitives, one operator on the authorities’ wanted list who is unlikely to show up voluntarily in the US anytime soon is Bodog founder Calvin Ayre, whose name apparently cropped up in the Panama Papers this week.

A lengthy article on the NBC News website chronicles Ayres’ longstanding battle with US authorities, who are now desperate to get their hands on new information the papers may provide on the flamboyant billionaire’s financial arrangements.

“Let’s just say we are very eager to see what’s in the documents,” a US law enforcement official told Fox News on condition of anonymity. “Any information that would help us … locate accounts, or funds or investments of any kind, is something (authorities) would be interested in.”

The Bodog founder has been playing a game of cat and mouse with the US government for years.

“Our position has always been that we are operating legally in all of the jurisdictions that we are in,” he has said. “And we don’t operate in the US.”