Our Complete Bodog Review
Bodog has an interesting history. The company was founded as a software design firm in 1994 by Canadian entrepreneur Calvin Ayre. Ayre is said to have idolized Richard Branson and his Virgin brand, so it's no surprise that he worked hard to build the Bodog brand. After opening as an online sportsbook and betting site in the year 2000, Bodog.com soon became one of the biggest names in the industry. By 2005, Bodog was reporting revenue in the hundreds of millions of dollars.
Then the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 forced Bodog out of the US market. A few years later, Ayres was revealed to be in a bit of trouble with the US government. The charges against him included "illegal gambling and money laundering" crimes, all related to things that happened before the UIGEA was passed. Bodog lost a good chunk of its revenue, no longer able to work with American customers, and sold its American holdings to the Morris Mohawk group under the name Bovada.
These days, Bodog offers a number of gambling options "under one roof" – sports betting, live betting, race betting, casino games, and head to head and casino-style poker. American customers are allowed to sign up for poker accounts – an odd wrinkle in the rules at Bodog, considering US players aren't allowed to play in any other category.
Bodog is an experienced operator, with well over a decade in a tough industry that's seen its fair share of controversy. I love how Bodog altered the standard RTG template for their casino games, tossing in a few quality Betsoft titles and creating proprietary titles not found anywhere else. While I'm not convinced that the promotions program is worth much of your time, unless you're a sportsbook customer only, it's nice that the site offers such a wide variety of bonuses to all their various types of customer.
Kudos to Bodog for having a well-designed Bonuses page. All the information you need is collected in one list, with terms and conditions for each bonus in a convenient "Learn More" link directly underneath the description. Having to dig around multiple locations on a site for all the different bonus offers is a drag.
Here's a brief description of every bonus currently listed on the site's promotions page at the time of this review. Check the page to see what offers are available at the time you're reading this, since it looks like their promotions are updated regularly.
- $200 Sports Sign Up Bonus
Sports bettors making their first deposit can earn a 100% deposit match bonus worth up to $200. The rollover requirement is 5x the deposit-plus-bonus. All wagers, odds, and markets are eligible for clearing this bonus.
- $600 Casino Match Bonus
Casino game fans can earn up to $600 at a match rate of 100%. The advertised amount is kind of a misnomer, as the $600 actually comes from two bonuses – a $200 offer for slot play and a $400 offer for casino games. The rollover requirement for both is 40x deposit-plus-bonus, which is on the high side compared to other online casino bonuses. Unlike the site's sports betting bonus, bets on certain casino games are not eligible for bonus-clearing.
- $1,000 Poker Sign Up Bonus
First-time poker playing depositors can earn up to $1,000 at a match rate of 100%. It's a more complicated system than either of the other two bonuses I described above. The amount a player can earn is based on earning what the site calls PokerPoints. Here's a link to the terms and conditions where you can read about the bonus in detail.
- Poker Bad Beat Bonus
Bodog offers a rebate to poker players who experience one of a specific set of bad beats. The rebate is worth 100x the big blind or a maximum of $1,000.
- Royal Flush Bonus
If you hold a Royal Flush, the site will pay you an instant bonus of 50x the big blind, maxed out at $200.
- Refer-a-Friend Bonus
Bodog customers who refer a friend are eligible to earn a bonus worth 200% of their first deposit of $20 or more, maxed out at $100. The rollover for this bonus depends on the game you play – sportsbook and poker customers have a 3x rollover, while casino customers have a 20x rollover.
- Racebook Rebates
Racebook customers can earn a 5% rebate on eligible race wagers on Tuesday afternoons. The actual amount of the rebate depends on the type of wager bettors place.
Before I describe the four banking options available at Bodog, I want to point out that the variety of methods is painfully small, and that at the time of my visit, part of their site was either down or just overlooked. I was trying to find out details on fees and other requirements for the various banking methods, but the page it took me to was completely blank. I understand, accidents happen, but this seems like pretty crucial information for potential customers, so it's a shame it wasn't available.
- Credit Card – VISA/MasterCard only. May require 7 business days.
- Direct Bank Transfer – Fees and other details not available.
- E-transfer – Fees and other details not available.
- Check by Courier – Maximum withdrawal size is $3,000. May require 10 business days.
Bodog's sportsbook was not just one of the first international online sportsbook services – it was a pioneer in deposits and withdrawals. One of the first instant payment methods, eCheck, premiered on the old Bodog.com domain.
What did Bodog's sportsbook service do that made it such a success? Some reviewers attribute the site's explosive growth and global branding to good marketing. Of course, signing up all the customers in the world won't help if those customers aren't spending (and losing) money. In the early days of the sportsbook industry, other books were charging fees for payouts and "nickel and diming" customers in other ways. Bodog offered bonuses in plain English and a wide range of free (and fast) payout options.
Times have changed – so has Bodog's URL. But bodog.eu is still a respected name in sports betting. The site has maintained some of its initial sleek simplicity over the past couple of decades. I found the user interface pretty intuitive, and I got used to navigating the markets and wagers without a struggle.
I just checked the available betting markets, and here's what I found – Bodog has two lists of markets for sports bettors. One is a standard list of betting lines available all the time, the other is a special list of "Featured Betting Lines."
Featured Betting Lines are lines available on special contests taking place on or near the day you visit. In the months leading up to the Super Bowl, you'll find props and lines for the NFL's big game. Currently, in the middle of the US Women's World Cup, you can find a number of wagers on that otherwise-ignored market.
- Live In-Play MLB Baseball
- The Greenbrier Classic
- Odds to Win the Tournament
- Wimbledon 2015
- Live In-Play ATP/WTA Tennis
- Women's World Cup
- USA vs Japan
Customer service is often easy to reach and they speak clearly, in perfect English, and are knowledgeable about the sports betting industry.
You can reach the banking department between the hours of 9AM and 5PM, though bets-by-phone and online are available around the clock. To contact the sportsbook directly, call + 506-296-6338.
Bodog's blend of software platforms is a nice feature. The site uses BetSoft, Realtime Gaming, and proprietary games to make up its casino library. The benefit of a blended platform is increased variety. No matter how good a casino designer's suite of titles is, players are going to get bored of the same style of games over and over. That's why I'm always excited to read that a site is using a blended platform.
One of the ways Bodog's software is unique is that many of the casino games were built on the skeleton of RTG's popular casino game library. Bodog pulled this off by literally buying the source code for RTG's games and having their designers customize and improve on them. The result is a rarity in the online casino business – the possibility of a unique lineup of games.
Unfortunately, that's not what happened. Most of the site's casino titles end up looking and behaving an awful lot like RTG titles, down to the names and selection of game variants.
This is where Bodog has collected its ten versions of the casino classic blackjack. Having reviewed a number of RTG-powered sites over the years I'm confident in saying that this list of games is similar enough to the standard RTG package to be almost comical.
- Blackjack – The standard casino card game, available in multiple deck formats.
- Double Deck Blackjack – A two-deck game that follows standard rules.
- European Blackjack – A six-deck game in which the dealer makes decisions differently.
- Face Up 21 – An eight-deck game in which the dealer's cards are dealt face-up.
- Match Play 21 – An eight-deck game, Match Play 21 is Bodog's version of Spanish 21.
- Perfect Pairs – A standard blackjack game with additional bonus payouts for certain hands.
- Pontoon – A two-deck game with rules based on a classic British blackjack variant.
- Single Deck Blackjack – A single-deck version of Bodog's standard blackjack game.
- Super 21 – Another blackjack variant with bonus payouts for different hand combos.
- Zappit Blackjack – A blackjack variant that allows players to exchange cards of a certain value.
This is home to all of Bodog's slot games that weren't produced by Betsoft or aren't proprietary 3D slots. That's a bit confusing, but basically if you're looking for Realtime Gaming titles, you should look in the Slots category. Here's a partial list of popular RTG and proprietary slot games hosted at Bodog at the time of my last visit:
- Bank On It
- Cleopatra's Gold
- I.R.I.S. 3000
- It's Good to Be Bad
- Mid-Life Crisis
- Zombies vs. Cheerleaders
This is where Bodog hosts their higher-quality games, the vast majority of them produced by industry giant Betsoft. "3D Slots" is kind of a misnomer – it's a vague category of slot titles that the industry uses to differentiate between games with high-quality "3D" effects, and it's useful as an identifier for slot fans interested in a certain type of game.
Here's a partial list of some of the most popular Betsoft 3D slots hosted at Bodog at the time of my review:
- 2 Million BC
- At the Movies
- Good Girl Bad Girl
- Sushi Bar
- The Slotfather
This is where Bodog collects titles that don't really belong anywhere else. At the time of my review, the three games hosted here were Sic Bo, Keno, and Bonus Bingo. All three of these games remind me of RTG's versions, which weren't anything special to begin with.
If you're not familiar with Bonus Bingo, Bodog describes it as bingo that's been "… designed to include a little more pizzazz and a whole lot more features." That's a really vague description; as far as I can tell, Bonus Bingo is multi-card bingo with a bonus round and a multiplier prize.
This is the section of Bodog's library dedicated to table games that aren't blackjack. If the following list of titles is familiar, it's because you can find almost the same games at any RTG casino:
- American Roulette – The classic game played on a wheel with two green "zero spaces."
- Baccarat – A traditional game of baccarat with an average-looking display.
- Caribbean Draw – A five-card draw poker game with a progressive jackpot. Players may draw up to two new cards after they raise.
- Caribbean Hold'em – A five-card community poker game with a progressive jackpot.
- Caribbean Stud – A five-card stud game with a progressive jackpot. The dealer shows just one up-card.
- Craps – A traditional game of craps played with European-style rules.
- European Roulette – The classic game played on a wheel with just one green "zero space."
- Let 'Em Ride – A popular casino-style community poker game.
- Pai Gow Poker – A poker game based on the rules of an ancient Chinese domino game.
- Red Dog – A poker-like card game involving antes and card value hierarchy.
- Tri-Card Poker – A three-card poker game with a single raise/fold round.
- Vegas Three Card Rummy – A player-versus dealer game where the lowest hand wins.
- War – The casino version of the kid's classic card game.
This is the most plainly-labeled category of Bodog's casino library. Collected here are seventeen variations of video poker. Each game is a little different in terms of its rules, payouts, available bonuses, and design. Here's the full list of RTG-style video poker games available at Bodog at the time of my review:
- Aces and Eights
- 7-Stud Poker
- All American Poker
- Bonus Deuces Wild
- Bonus Poker
- Bonus Poker Deluxe
- Deuces Wild
- Double Bonus Poker
- Double Double Bonus Poker
- Double Double Jackpot Poker
- Double Jackpot Poker
- Jacks or Better
- Joker Poker
- Loose Deuces
- Mystery Bonus Poker
- Pick'Em Poker
- Sevens Wild
Bodog Poker is my favorite section of the site because I'm an American, and most US players can sign up for a Bodog poker account. The reason this loophole exists is complicated, and has to do with licensing. The gaming license for Bodog's proprietary poker software is Kahnawake, which gladly licenses gaming operations with US-based customers.
But once upon a time, Bodog was a huge player in the US poker market. Before the UIGEA forced most of the major poker sites out of the US entirely, Bodog had a couple of years of booming growth in its young poker room, which opened for business in 2004. By that time, Bodog was a household name for its sportsbook and casino properties. By 2006, Bodog boasted a World Series of Poker champion in Jamie Gold.
Don't think that Bodog is full of American players – sure, you'll see lots of North American-based opponents, but Bodog has done an excellent job expanding its base in to Europe and Asia. In my experience, Bodog is still one of the most diverse player bases in the online world, if only because it includes a few American players.
Bodog hovers between fourth and second place in terms of poker traffic.
In a way, Bodog has retained its household name status in the world of online poker, even though the US poker market is nothing compared to ten or twelve years ago. According to PokerScout.com, Bodog has peaked at around 3,800 cash players in the last seven days, with an average number of around 1,700.
The line on player quality at Bodog and other sites with attached sportsbooks is that the competition plays looser than average because of wandering sportsbook customers with no poker experience. Even if that's true, which I don't think it is, this type of player can still be dangerous to veterans. They're unpredictable, frustrating, and annoying.
In my opinion, the fact that Bodog has the third-most traffic of any online poker site (as I write this) means that the quality of players is varied, including a smattering of players of all skill levels.
Bodog Poker hosts games of Texas hold'em, Omaha, Omaha hi-lo, seven card stud, and seven card hi-lo, all in both Limit and No Limit ring games. I'll admit that I saw only a single high stakes game going on at my last visit, and it seems like other reviewers agree – Bodog is not a great spot for high stakes games.
If you're into tournaments, though, Bodog would make a nice home.
The site's own Bodog Poker Open tends to make some noise in the industry as well. Compared to PokerStars and 888, the tournament pool are noticeably smaller, in the low hundreds rather than pushing 1,000. Some players love that, others hate it.
Bodog's general support line is 1-877-263-6422. The site's fax number is +1 866-737-8458.
The site says that Bodog attempts to answer all emails "… within four hours."
Live chat is available at this site. It isn't available 24 hours a day, like at other sites, but I can't tell you what hours it is open, as that information isn't publicly available.
Bodog has changed a lot since it was founded in the mid-90s. Some of those changes are still occurring – since the 2006 UIGEA, Bodog has struggled to maintain its place as one of the top names in the industry, especially after getting rid of their US-facing operations. In the wake of founder Calvin Ayres legal troubles in the US, it seems unlikely the site will ever retain its old glory, even if regulations in America loosen over the next decade, as is expected.
Bodog's user-interface is good-looking and easy to use. I can't say the same about their mobile sites, which seem ill-suited to display on my iPhone 6+. Though the casino and poker software is a blend of existing and proprietary games and designs, it doesn't seem varied enough to compete with some of the bigger names in the business.
If you live outside the US and you are primarily interested in betting on sports or playing poker, Bodog is a good option to consider. Outside of those circumstances, I'd suggest a site with a more robust promotions program and a higher-quality casino game library. I'm pretty neutral on Bodog overall.