There’s been a lot of positive news resonating from Bodog in recent weeks. The online poker room, sports book, and casino recently held a $250,000 Guarantee, the largest online poker tournament in its history. A few days ago, Bodog announced that the second Bodog Poker Open would be held and scheduled the Main Event for October 5th. Now, Poker News Daily has learned that the situation is not all rosy. Like many online gaming companies, Bodog is struggling. It faces opposition and adversity from several different angles, most notably losing the rights to its original domain, Bodog.com. Now found at BodogLife.com, the online poker site is down to a “skeleton crew,” according to a source within Bodog.
Bodog is based in Antigua and was founded in 1994 by Calvin Ayre. Its founder became a household name and symbol of independence. Ayre regularly scoffed at the notion of the U.S. government having any authority over his business and even appeared on the cover of Forbes magazine as one of its “billionaires” in 2006. In 2007, Ayre signed a deal with Morris Mohawk Gaming Group of Kahnawake, Quebec, which would hold the rights to acquire Bodog to customers throughout North America. Ayre left Bodog entirely in early 2008.
In August of 2007, Bodog lost the rights to its domain name, Bodog.com. Initially, it moved to NewBodog.com, but eventually would find a home on BodogLife.com. The company moved its operations from Vancouver to Montreal, as the Alwyn Morris group is about a 15 minute drive from Montreal. The new regime, according to Poker News Daily’s source inside Bodog, lost many quality employees who did not wish to make the move from Vancouver. The staff that had grown to make Bodog one of the top internet gambling sites in the world had, in essence, turned over.
In the past week, Bodog has laid off close to 250 employees in Canada, from customer service to management. It currently is down to approximately 100 employees in its Vancouver office and about the same number in Montreal. Its advertising manager is no longer with the company, as it has suspended all advertising. In 2005, Esquire magazine came under fire for running a multi-page Bodog spread within its April issue. However, other poker magazines continued to run Bodog advertising despite Esquire’s legal headaches.
In addition to its casino, sports book, and poker offerings, Bodog also owns and operates a music label. Its clients include DMX, Wu-Tang Clan, Fall From Grace, Neurosonic, and the Fear Nuttin Band. Its fantasy football site, Fantasy.Bodoglife.com, is about to host games for the 17-week NFL season. Our inside source claimed that Bodog’s future rests on the revenue brought in during the NFL season, which is traditionally the busiest time of the year for sports books.
In addition, Bodog has faced adversity from the Federal Government in the United States. In 2006, Congress passed the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA), which prohibited the transfer of funds from online poker players to online poker rooms. Congressman Pete Sessions (R-TX) recently introduced legislation that would interpret the UIGEA to mean that only companies that run online sports books and solicit U.S. customers, like Bodog, would be illegal.
In July, Forbes magazine published an article saying that money had been seized from four major U.S. banks; it purportedly belonged to Bodog’s payment processors. However, Bodog largely denied the allegations. Needless to say, Bodog has suffered through a large number of events which have not gone in its favor. In addition, players on major discussion boards have been complaining of slow payments by Bodog, including one poster on PocketFives.com who said his courier check was to take two months to arrive.