Every major industry in the world can be linked back to a credited founder. Computers existed for years, but Apple founder Steve Jobs gets the credit for desktop computers. The world wide web was the brainchild of Bill Gates. As for online gambling, its success is most often attributed to Calvin Ayre.
His story is a fascinating one, and a direct link to the multi-billion dollar industry that online gambling has become worldwide – an industry that is projected to generated US $50 billion this year.
Early Life Lessons
Calvin Ayre acquired his business as a young boy, growing up on a farm outside Lloydminister, Alberta, where his father, Ken, grew wheat and raised pigs. According to the now-billionaire, his entrepreneur skills were developed early when his father gave him charge of a drift of piglets to raise. He was allowed to keep all proceeds from the pigs once they went to market.
That lesson stuck with him over the years. When it came time for college, in order to pay for tuition, Ayre rented a truck and drove shipments of produce from orchards in BC to northern Saskatchewan.
Once again, his efforts paid off. He graduated from University of Waterloo with a BSc in 1984, and followed that up with an MBA from City University of Seattle in 1989.
Birth of Bodog
In 1992, Calvin Ayre read a newspaper article about a Caribbean-based gambling company that accepted wagers over the phone. The internet was in its infantile stages at the time, and Ayre says that was the defining moment for him and his lucrative future.
He later described that moment as: “a loud banging in my head and the whole universe came together.”
At that time, Ayre had already founded an internet incubator company in Vancouver. He immediately went to work to convert that business into a software firm catering to online gambling. That company would later become the famous Bodog brand.
Calvin had no trouble licencing the software to online gambling companies. It was a huge success. But Ayre soon realized just how much more successful it could be as its own online gambling operation, rather than a backend software provider.
Ayre changed his focus, coming up with the perfect brand name. Once more, his entrepreneur skills came in handy. He knew it needed to be catchy, unique, easy to spell, and no more than 6 letters long. He also wanted to be able to expand into other entertainment industries with the name (unlike, for example, PartyPoker; a niche-market appellation.)
What he came up with was “Bodog”.
Online Gambling Surge
Bodog began offering its own online gambling services, feeding off the original proprietary software, in 2000. Over the next few years, Bodog grew to enormous heights, as did Calvin Ayre’s billionaire status. He made himself the face of his company, becoming a ‘bad boy adventurer‘ that helped the brand appeal to millions of users.
In 2005, Bodog recorded revenue of US$210 billion, with a profit of US$7.3 billion. Ayre was a universal star, appearing on television shows and magazine covers.
In 2006, he made the cover of Forbes‘ Billionaire Issue, and was listed among People Magazine‘s 40 Hottest Bachelors.
Online Gambling Struck by UIGEA
In 2007, following the US passage of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA), Ayre chose to sell Bodog.com to the Morris Mohawk Gaming Group, based on the tribal reservation of Kahnawake, Canada.
While MMGG took control of the Bodog.com online gambling website, Ayre retained ownership of the Bodog brand. The name eventually evolved into Bodog Entertainment Group as he expanding into other avenues of the entertainment industry.