History of Bodog and Bovada

Bovada Bodog Banner

Bovada.lv is a new online gambling site powered by Bodog.
They are owned by Mohawk Morris Gaming Group (MMGG) who has been
licensing Bodog software, brand name, and support services since
2007. With Bodog now growing in legal markets, they no longer
want for their brand name associated with
United States
. As a result, the new Bovada.lv brand was created on
December 14, 2011 for US players, while non-US players still use
Bodog branded websites. Below, we cover their history in great

Starting as a Software Company

The history of Bodog/Bovada starts with a software company
called Cyberoad established in 1997. This company powered three
of the Internet’s first online sportsbooks:
mayansports.com, thebigbook.com, and granprixsports.com, each
launched in 1998.

These gambling sites were unique, having a payment system
called eBanx that allowed bettors to fund their accounts with
credit cards, and cash out with e-checks. As you can learn in
history of sportsbook.com (another competitor from the same
era) this was unusual. Most online gambling sites back then
relied on Western Union or cash agents, making online payment
processing a huge plus.

Sometime in 1999, Cyberoads purchased ebanx, although there
was a strong indication that they already owned ebanx. The
mastermind behind all this is believed to be Calvin Ayre, a
“consultant” to both Cyberoad and eBanx, while his company El
Moro Finance Ltd. (BVI) was a secured creditor. However this
played out (there are multiple sides to the story), in late 2000
after raising a lot of cash with a plan to go public, Cyberoad
failed. El Moro Finance Ltd. (BVI) ended up acquiring its
assets, which were then assigned to a subsidiary called eSportz
that showed up in late 2000 claiming to have been in the
business of providing software since 1995.

From Software Company to Gambling Site

When Cyberoad failed, the three sportsbooks it powered were
without software. Grand Prix and the Big Book were both based in
the same office in Costa Rica, but they had separate ownership. The
Big Book ended up purchasing Grand Prix and then signed on to
use the same software, now branded as eSportz. Mayan Sports,
however, was located in the Dominican Republic and apparently
didn’t come to terms with eSportz. This caused a major
controversy which involved the creation of Bodog.

In early 2001, Mayan Sports was still offline when many of
their clients got an email from a then unheard of sportsbook
called bodog.com, claiming their user name and password would
now work here. As it turns out, Bodog was a self-operated brand
by eSportz that shared an office with their primary client, The
Big Book. For years to come, Mayan would accuse Bodog of having
stolen their clients.

Calvin Ayre / Cole Turner

The theft allegations by Mayan Sports escalated in later
years when it was discovered that the
Bodog founder and CEO,
then using the alias Cole Turner, was actually Calvin Ayre. This
was hugely controversial since at the time, the industry was not
yet aware that he was behind El Moro Finance Ltd. (BVI). The
actual story came out later that he had raised capital for
Cyberoad as a “consultant”, it failed, and a company he
controlled acquired all the assets, at which time he began using
an alias (Cole Turner).

This wasn’t the first questionable business dealing involving Calvin Ayre.

The self-told story about his past is that he was
born to Canadian pig and grain farmers in 1961. After college
and a few failed business ventures, he sold everything he owned
to raise $10,000 in 1994 to start a software company that would
become Bodog. What’s often omitted from the story is that his
father was convicted in 1987 for smuggling 750 pounds of
marijuana. While Calvin was not charged or arrested, he was
referred to by the judge as a co-conspirator who “undoubtedly
played a part.” In a separate run in with the law, in 1991 he
was civilly charged with insider trading, but settled for a
$10,000 fine and was banned from the Vancouver Stock Exchange
until 2016.

When it was discovered that Cole Turner was actually Calvin
Ayre (the owner of Bodog and eSportz), this made Mayan Sports
and many Cyberoad investors angry. It’s fair to say that Calvin
Ayre had no shortage of enemies in his early career. However,
looking ahead to today, Bodog has always been an honest and
reputable gambling site that has paid all winners. Mayan, on the
other hand, proved to be a rogue gambling site (D+ rated
currently). It’s difficult without all the facts to implicate
Calvin Ayre of much, but based on track records running a
gambling site, Calvin Ayre’s reputation is spotless from the
perspective of Bodog account holders and their payments.

The Big Book Closing

To get back on track with the timeline of Bovada history, as
mentioned, the company that started Bodog, eSportz was powering
The Big Book and sharing an office. Each company used the same
payment and accounting firm as well. The story of their falling
out with Bodog involves a woman named Viktoria Zazoulina (known
as Vika) who had immigrated from the Ukraine to Vancouver, BC,
Canada in early 1990’s.

Vika took a position with Kazootek Technologies Ltd. at their
start (strongly believed to have been another Calvin Ayre
company) that did all the financial accounting for the ebanx
payment system. Vika started as a junior accountant and had such
a good (perceived) work ethic that her supervisors increased her
pay and covered her schooling towards a CGA designation
(Canada’s word for CPA). She eventually reached the top of the
company and hired her friend Tatiana Kostiouk (known as Tanya).

In time, both Vika and Tanya became signing officers in most
of the company’s Kazootek Technologies Ltd. (meaning they had
access to all bank accounts). By this time, Vika was a true
immigration success story earning over $100,000 per year.
However, on June 15th of 2001, life changed. This was the date
on which Vika and Tanya signed the first of many checks used to
embezzle large sums of cash from clients, most of which
considered them close friends. As they stole and got away with
it for years, their confidence grew. They enrolled a new
employee, Greg Tanner, to help start a competing company, which
used technology stolen from Kazootek and finance money from
their clients.

According to an article (no longer online) that we suspect
was written by Calvin Ayre, they soon dragged The Big Book into
a plan to become a client and began conspiring how to steal the
source code from eSportz. With an investigation already under
way into the strange behavior seen from Vika in recent months,
alarm bells went off when she gave her two-week notice in
mid-2003. Not allowing her to destroy evidence for the next two
weeks, she was immediately escorted out of the building, and her
office and computers were locked down for forensic audit. The
aftermath was the filling of a lawsuit, and Bodog ending its
partnership with The Big Book. From this day forward, Bodog.com
was the only brand powered by the eSportz software.

Bodog Poker Launched in 2004

Bodog Logo

Shortly after freeing themselves from their role as a
software provider, Bodog got to work aggressively building both
their gambling site and brand name. 2004 was a great year
for online poker with the boom created by Chris Moneymaker
winning the 2003 WSOP Main Even. Bodog took advantage by
launching an online poker site, fueling a ton of branding and
marketing opportunities.

The first of many correct poker decisions Bodog made was
signing 2004 WSOP Main Event runner-up, David Williams, and
third place finisher, Josh Arieh, to their new team of sponsored
Bodog poker pros. Williams was an amateur player with little
poker experience at the time. However, he’d quickly finish as
runner up in a WPT event, win a WSOP bracelet in 2006, make
another WPT final table, and then win the 2010 WPT championship.
This was huge for Bodog, and he turned out to be a great
ambassador of the sport while wearing Bodog gear. Josh Arieh,
already a professional with a 1999 WSOP bracelet, turned out to
be a great investment as well. He won a 2005 WSOP bracelet while
sporting a Bodog logo.

Bodog continued to build their brand with a televised poker
series launched in 2005 called Calvin Ayre Wild Card Poker and
multiple television commercials running in the US for their free
version of poker located at bodog.net. The beauty of .net is
they could advertise free play poker in the US, where gambling
advertisements are banned, and still build name recognition.
Anyone doing a Google search or just typing in the .com would
soon see that Bodog offered a real money poker site as well.

Bodog Purchases WWTS

One of the oldest and most trusted gambling sites servicing
the US market was WorldWide TeleSports (WWTS). This company was
launched in Antigua in 1994 as a toll-free phone-in betting shop
before later launching betwwts.com online sportsbook, and poker
sites betholdem.com and 123poker.com. They also had a large
number of white label brands promoting their products. This
company was massively successful thanks to gambling hall of
famer Billy Scott running the show.

When Billy Scott eventually retired, he handed off the reigns
to a man you can learn about in our
history of Pinnacle Sports
and intertops.eu named Simon Noble. Perhaps it had something to
do with not having the same passion when owning most of the
shares, but the business slipped after Scott left. In poor
financial shape, Bodog purchased them for $9 million in October,
2006. Bodog acquired offices in Antigua, moved their accounts
(including white labels) to Bodog.com, and started claiming that
their history dated back to 1994. This is a bit quirky as there
was no Bodog in 1994; they are simply claiming the start date of
the brand they later purchased and closed. In any case, this was
a great move that made Bodog even more popular.

Bodog Begins Focusing on Their Brand

Calvin Ayre was all about branding and saw this as the key to
success. His strategy was for Bodog to represent fun and
excitement, etc. He viewed Bodog as a brand similar to Richard
Branson’s Virgin. To follow through, he started numerous
non-gambling ventures using the Bodog name, some of which are
included below:


Bodog Handicapper Challenge – a betting contest
hosted in Las Vegas at Mandalay Bay featuring Football Hall
of Famer Joe Montana that also held a poolside party at the
Palms Hotel.


BodogBEAT – a blog that covered sports
news and current events. It has since become
gamblingbeat.com due to the change to the Bovada.lv domain.


Bodog Music – their own Bodog indy music
label representing DMX, Wu Tang Clan, Billy Idol, and


Bodog Lingerie Bowl – Bodog got sexy
women to play football in the Lingerie Bowl, which took
place at half time during the Super Bowl and was available
for PPV.


Bodog Fight – Bodog established their
own mixed-martial-arts (MMA) brand which had fights air on
Men’s Outdoor Recreation and on DISH Network.


Bodog Battle of the Bands – a new show
on FUSE network that sought music talent. The show featured
Jonny Rotten, Bif Naked, and Billy Duff.

Calvin Ayre also did wonders building his own name. In
addition to making the Forbes magazine Billionaire list in 2006,
he has been featured on MTV Cribs for his mansion in Costa Rica
and has appeared on BNN, VH1, Extra, Careers TV, and CNBC. He’s
been named Star magazine’s “Most Eligible Billionaire Bachelor”
and one of People magazine’s “Hottest Bachelors”. This is a man
who no doubt has lived an incredible lifestyle with the world
watching, which in turn has provided Bodog with great exposure.

Bodog Experiences Setbacks

On August 28, 2007, the domain bodog.com stopped working.
Calvin Ayre himself sent out an email using the address
[email protected] signed Calvin Ayre, Bodog Founder. This
email said:

“Bodog.com is currently experiencing technical
difficulties. I’m very sorry for the inconvenience… All of us at
Bodog are working hard to get things fixed as fast as possible…”

The following day he sent another email informing that the
problems were due to an ownership dispute they were working to
get settled as soon as possible and that Bodog was now available
at newbodog.com.

The company who now controlled the Bodog.com domain name was
1ST TECHNOLOGY LLC of the United States. This company held
patents related to a “method and system for interactively
transmitting multimedia information over a network which
requires a reduced bandwidth.
” To be clear, what Bodog did was
no different than any other gambling site. 1ST TECHNOLOGY LLC
has sued PokerStars, FutureBet (Oddsmaker), Cake Poker, BetCRIS,
and other gambling sites for violating the same patent. The
difference with Bodog was that Calvin Ayre actually had assets
in Las Vegas, NV that the company was able to go after.

Starting in July of 2005, the 1ST TECHNOLOGY, LLC law firm
sent multiple letters to Calvin Ayre’s San Jose Costa Rican
address listed on the Bodog website. When they didn’t get a
reply, they finally filed a lawsuit in September of 2006 and
called Bodog’s customer service group, who said they’d pass the
message on to the legal department. Bodog claimed they received
none of these letters. This escalated so that eventually Bodog
failed to appear in court; and in March, 2007, a judge issued a
default judgment ordering Bodog to pay (with interest)
$48,937,456 to 1st Technology for patent infringement. With this
judgment, they eventually were able to gain control of the
Bodog.com domain.

Bodog Takes Interesting Defense

After the domain stopped resolving on August 28, 2007, less
than two weeks later on September 6, 2007, Bodog published a
press release claiming Mohawk Morris Gaming Group was now
licensing their brand and controlling all US business. They used
the defense in court that the domain awarded to 1ST TECHNOLOGY
LLC was no longer owned by Bodog or Calvin Ayre. After several
appeals, the case moved to Washington, and this defense wasn’t
successful. In fact, a judge ordered all bank accounts and tax
verifications: perhaps a challenge due to the nature of Calvin
Ayre’s business dealings.

Payment Slow – Funds Seized

The loss of the Bodog.com name was costly to the company.
They had previously ranked high in Google for key terms such as
poker, online poker, betting sites, gambling sites, various
sports leagues, casino games, and similiar phrases. In order to
compensate, they rebranded as BodogLife.com and began relying
heavily on affiliates. Between millions paid to affiliates in
commissions and the loss of income from search engine traffic,
Bodog was in poor financial shape.

Making matters worse was the fact that the IRS and Maryland
DOJ managed to seize $14.2 million on February 19, 2008 and
$9.87 million on July 2, 2008 from payment processors of cash
belonging to Bodog.

During this period, all players were paid,
but there was a massive increase in the time it took to process
payments (2+ months at one period) and multiple layoffs.

Bodog Pays 1ST TECHNOLOGY LLC $49 Million

Finally, in April 2009, Mohawk Morris Gaming Group paid 1ST
TECHNOLOGY LLC $49 million in settlements and got back access to
the Bodog.com domain. In just a matter of days, bodoglife.com
was redirected to
Bodog.com and all was restored.

Bodog Grows With International Expansion

With their domain back, Bodog’s revenue increased greatly,
and they began licensing other versions of the brand the same
way they were licensing the .com to Mohawk Morris Gaming Group
(MMGG). This saw the creation of Bodog.ca in Canada. Bodog88.com
focused on the Asian market, and Bodog.co.uk focused on the UK.
Although the circumstances and timing are a bit suspect, Bodog
claims they are now just a branding company that no longer
operates gambling sites.

Calvin Ayre often compares his strategy to that of Richard
Branson and Virgin. The success their brands have experienced in
other markets is quite impressive. They’ve sponsored English
Premier League teams and have taken bets at the stadium. Bodog88
is very popular in China and Thailand, while Bodog.ca is the
most popular gambling site in Canada.

Current Bovada.lv Ownership

As a reminder,
Bovada.lv is the US version of Bodog. Mohawk
Morris Gaming Group (MMGG) owns them, a private company
headquartered in the Mohawk Territory of Kahnawake in Quebec,
Canada. and part of the seven communities that make up the Mohawk
Nation. Although operating from a sovereign Indian Reservation
where no financial reporting is required, MMGG is considered
highly reputable.

Alwyn Morris

The CEO of MMGG is Alwyn Morris (born November 22, 1957).
He’s a Canadian sprint kayaker who won two Olympic medals
(including one gold medal) for Canada in 1984. He’s also been
awarded the Order of Canada for work with Aboriginal youth in
the field of Alcohol and Drug abuse and was senior advisor to
the Chief and Council of the Kahnawake Mohawks for twelve years.
Under the Mohawk Morris Gaming Group, Bodog, and now Bovada,
have a great track record for customer support, payments, and
fair gambling policies. You can now access their website at

This concludes the story of Bovada/Bodog up until the
creation of Bovada.lv on December 14, 2011. While the two
companies have a history that will always be intertwined at the
roots, from this date on each has begun building a separate one
of their own. This means that Bovada happenings don’t influence
Bodog much, and Bodog happenings don’t matter much to Bovada.
They are separate companies, each having unique ownership.