Billionaire Calvin Ayre, 58, is best known for his contributions to the sports-betting industry. He is, after all, the founder of Bodog, the wildly popular online sportsbook.
You may not know it, but Ayre is also known for his philanthropy, which has stood out over the years. Having such wealth has sparked an urge to give back to the community of Antigua.
Many of his charitable contributions come through the Calvin Ayre Foundation. Recently, he was officially recognized for his work by Antigua and was presented with the Faithful and Meritorious Cross award, one of the highest philanthropic honors there are in the country.
The award was presented by the Governor-General His Excellency Sir Rodney Williams, and Ayre wasted little time waxing about obligation upon receiving the award. As he said at the time, per the Antigua Observer’s Carlena Knight:
“Well, I just think that everybody should [give back]. It’s just a core philosophy that I’ve always had for a long time, which is that anybody that’s been fortunate to have success in their life should give back to those less fortunate because, honestly, you don’t even know for sure how much of your success is hard work and how much of it is just being at the right place at the right time. So I just think there are a lot of reasons to give back.
“Usually, when I win any type of award, I always just remind the rest of society and those who are fortunate enough that we are all in this together. It would be nice to see other people do the same thing.”
Arye also took the opportunity to speak to the younger entrepreneurs coming up in the country. His words of motivation were met with applause amongst the crowd, where Arye mostly talked about the risks, uncertainties, and sacrifices that every young entrepreneur has to make along the journey to financial success.
The immense pressure is more than enough to make a person crumble, says Arye. He also says that every person should focus on an area of expertise. Since the sweat, sleepless nights, and pressure are very hard for every person to take, Arye says that every young entrepreneur should focus on something enjoyable and something that can be loved.
But Arye doesn’t only give to the community through charities and donations. His business, Bodog, provides employment for more than 600 Antiguans and Barbudans. This has not only opened the way for 600 people to live better lives but incredible financial profits.
Everyone working under Ayre has said to be paid well and happy to be working for him. Also, last year, he opened a new business, Canada Place, which provides even more jobs for the natives ever since it’s opening back in 2019.
Not only that, but Arye has been a stout supporter of a number of Antiguan institutions such as The National Housing Project, the Friends of the Care Project, the Barbuda and Antigua Youth Symphony Orchestra, the Halo Foundation, and even restoring parts of the government’s house in Antigua.
All of these financial investments have caused for Arye to be awarded the biggest and most honorable award that Antigua has to offer. They love him so much that the people have defended him after US allegations of illegal operating.
And with all that said, not everyone is his biggest fan, and he has quite the enemies back in the US and Canada. This is because sportsbook founders are notoriously divisive figures back in North America, and he’s no different.
In 2012, for instance, Ayre was indicted by the US Attorney for Maryland. The charges: Illegal gambling and money laundering. While the Antiguan government threw its support behind Ayre, arguing that the charge went against international law, he eventually pled guilty to a misdemeanor. All other charges were subsequently, although his Bodog and Bovada Sportsbook brands, like www.sportsbettingsites.com, have since received criticism for their alleged circumvention of international gambling laws.
Ayre’s bio reads like a thriller novel, one that includes both raids and philanthropic deeds. But while the perception of him may fluctuate on the international level, he is a popular figure in Antigua. Plus, he’s not entirely disliked on the international scale. He was, remember, on the cover of Forbes magazine in 2006.
Nowadays, you’ll hear him saying that he did nothing wrong, a statement that Antigua and the US greatly disagree on. He is so disliked by the US government that he will be arrested if stepping on US soil. So, chances are, he might never come back to the US.
And, as we said, his business isn’t really appreciated in North America, so chances are he will stay in exotic Antigua for now. And who could blame him? Living on an exotic island far away from US law is nothing short of paradise for him.
The people love him, his businesses are thriving, and he isn’t in any risk by European law.
Arye has also been appointed the Special Economic Envoy for Antigua, a role that is supposed to promote Antigua as a hub for startups and Bitcoin-based companies. His goal is to make Antigua a paradise for other, similar, businessmen such as himself. No doubt that the population will thrive if other men like him bring their businesses to Antigua and Barbuda.
Recently, with all the natural disasters going around, his charity, calvinaryefoundation.org, has focused on financially helping people related to natural disasters, as well as, educational support.
In a recent interview, he said that he wishes the US government to see him as an employer, rather than a person breaking the law. His business has the potential of offering employment to many US citizens, but fears that doing so would be impossible due to the US’s stance on the gambling industry.
Anyway, whatever your view of Ayre’s business dealings and sports gambling in general, we can all find common ground on one thing: Ayre has established himself as one of the more charitable international billionaires, and now he has the hardware to match.