It has to be asked again; has Calvin Ayre really retired from online gambling?
Calvin Ayre, the high profile and often controversial founder of the Bodog online gambling group (and brand), has surprised the iGaming industry by returning as keynote speaker at the 2009 Budapest Affiliate Conference, running from September 10th-13th this year.
In a press release, Ayre says that after selling his online gaming business to the Morris Mohawk Gaming Group following the passage of the UIGEA, he left the limelight and the life of an iGaming operator behind, announcing his retirement to focus on Bodog's charitable initiatives.
However, apparently away from the glare of the cameras, Ayre was quietly working on a renewed vision of the Bodog brand, which he had "...conceived of and developed into one of the most recognizable in the industry."
Ayre vowed to turn Bodog into a household word synonymous not only with online gaming, but a lifestyle that could span industries and continents around the globe. He consolidated and retained the global rights to the Bodog brand, developing a business to simply license its use to designated brand licensees.
“We are absolutely thrilled that the eminent Calvin Ayre will be joining us at Budapest, " said Alex Pratt, Publisher of iGaming Business and organiser of the event. “He is an industry leader with true entrepreneurial genius and we are happy to be able to give this chance for delegates to meet and gain invaluable knowledge from the legend.”
Ayre now works primarily with the BodogBrand.com enterprise to identify potential brand licensees - a model which has produced gepgraphically diverse licensees such as MMGG (www.bodog.com), Bodog Europe (www.bodog.co.uk and www.bodog.ca), and most recently Bodog Asia (www.bodog88.com), each of which operates independently and within the confines of its own gaming license.
The original Bodog was started by Ayre with only $10 000, rising to become a multi-million dollar global entertainment group. He has been hailed as the guru of marketing, PR and branding in the online gaming industry. In late 2006, according to hitwise.com, bodog.com was the world’s largest online gaming site for traffic and traffic is definitely something that will get an affiliate audience’s pulse rate up.
“I’m very flattered to have been asked to be this year’s keynote speaker in Budapest," said Ayre. "The iGaming space is the birthplace of the Bodog brand, and it remains one of the most dynamic and fascinating sectors in the entertainment space. Thanks to BodogBrand.com’s world-class licensees, each of which brings regional knowledge and expertise to their respective markets, the brand has become truly global – the sun never sets on Bodog now.”
Judging by the press material, Ayre will also be using the opportunity to punt a new Bodog brand licensee – a stand-alone, Bodog-branded poker network Bodogpoker.com.