Bodog88's Move to Asia, Is the Future Bright Enough for Shades?


Every time I begin reading an article about Calvin Ayre I get this strange feeling of being in a room full of Hollywood writers and execs foaming at the mouth over the next blockbuster crime drama/adventure movie.

Ayre’s has to be one of the most talked about execs in the online gambling industry and the fascination or need to know more about his next move is like the US’s fascination with MTV’s The Jersey Shore.

“Gamblin’ Drinkin’ and Carryin’ On”

Raised in Lloydminster, Sask., Calvin Edward Ayre is the son of grain and pig farmers, so why the lure and fuss about the guy that just wants to be “Gamblin’ Drinkin’ and Carryin’ On”?

I guess the answer is simple, because the need for human nature must be fed and in an industry hungry to find the next big thing, we seem to follow Ayre’s breadcrumbs to feast at his table.

Calvin Ayre sold Bodog in 2006, leaving the U.S. market, he then retired in 2008, opening a brand new chapter for the “Billionaire Outlaw.”

Fast forward to 2012, Ayre is indicted by the US Attorney in Baltimore, Maryland for activities relating to Bodog, the regulated UK markets never seemed to work out just right for Bodog’s needs and now it looks as though the new beginnings is Bodog88, the Asian market and the potential riches on offer.

So where does Ayre fit into all this? Well, according to news blogs, magazines and reports, insiders claim “Ayre can be seen as often as three times a week in the company’s main office in the Makati central business district of Manila.”

But news sources claim Bodog88 CEO Robert Gustafsson will deny it…

“In quite a boring Swedish way, I have just been fixing things – making sure the right processes and the right structures are in place, making sure the right people are doing the right things,” says Gustafsson. “Now we are a big company, we need even more processes and structure.”

In regards to growth in Asia:

Gustafsson insists they have established a true ‘work hard, play hard’ Bodog culture.

Back in April, Gustafsson stated in an interview for Ayre’s website stating, “Bodog has made all of the mistakes you can make when coming to Asia.” Nevertheless, he’s confident that those mistakes are over and as their massive growth in the past year has shown, they seem to be getting it right after a few false starts. “We needed a house cleaning; I gave myself one year to get rid of the wrong people and to put the right people in the right positions. Rather than one year, we were able to accomplish it in just 5 months.

“If you look at most European companies then you are looking at growth of 10, 20 or 30 per cent,” says Gustafsson. “If I have a month here when I am growing less than 200 per cent year-on-year then that’s a lost month for me. We should do at least 500 per cent year-on-year.”

Bodog Brand/Bodog88

Earlier this month the Bodog Brand announced the closing of Bodog online poker options in the UK/Europe area but also stating, Bodog88, Bodog.CA and Bovada will remain online for Asian players as well as Canadians and US players respectively.

Robert Gustafsson, the Managing Director, commented: “There are estimated to be at least 100,000,000 Chinese living outside China and if you then include Thai, Malay and Vietnamese expats you have more than just a niche market but one that has been ignored by other operators despite being far and away the largest consumer group of casino games on the planet. can offer a totally different product to a totally different audience and while we will still offer sports betting the all-important casino customer will be our main source of revenue.”

Video interview with Robert Gustafsson

Interview with Robert Gustafsson – Bodog88 Video 


Bodog Poker Network

Last week we reported about the network signing a new deal with online casino and sportsbetting site TLC88, as CEO Nick Lee, stated, “Poker is in its infancy in Asia but unlike most Western focused games lends itself well to the concepts of sharing and community that are so familiar to Asian gamblers.”

“The Bodog Network is different to the other poker rooms and works better for players who are new to the game which is what many of our customers will be,” he added.

Jonas Ödman, Bodog Poker Network CEO, reaffirmed Bodog Network’s new direction, quoted in the press release as saying, “We always felt the best place for the Network was Asia.”

The Future’s So Bright, Gotta Wear Shades announced this morning the launch of sports betting and casino in Vietnamese, followed by poker before the end of 2012. As with any launch in a new region the bespoke needs of the customer have been the key part in how the site is structured. Vietnam is very different in its online gaming consumption to other Asian markets.

Bodog88’s Managing Director, Robert Gustafsson, explains:

“Vietnam has been overlooked by many online gaming companies which is surprising for a number of reasons, not least a population of over 90,000,000. But, equally crucially, they are sports mad and love to bet in the same way the Chinese gamers love casino, with European soccer betting being at the top of the list.”

He added: “Vietnam, like so many countries in Asia, also has a rapidly growing economy and, having first mover advantage in these countries, will be, I feel, extremely beneficial to Bodog88.”

Bodog88 offers both Traditional and Simplified Chinese, Thai, English and now Vietnamese. In the near-term Bodog88 will look to consolidate and enhance its product offering to these regions before launching elsewhere.

Peter McCullough can be found playing Texas Hold’em and enjoying life in Surrey, BC


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