New Loon: David Baines’ strange obsession with Calvin Ayre and Bodog

TAGs: Bodog, Calvin Ayre, david baines, Vancouver Sun

Everyone here at broke into knowing grins when we heard that Vancouver tabloid hack David Baines had penned his latest anti-fan letter to this website’s namesake. You see, it’s common knowledge amongst the staff that Baines is somewhat obsessed with Calvin Ayre, and has been for years. As such, we’ve felt it was our responsibility to challenge David now and then on some of his beliefs — and some of his make-believes — regarding Calvin, Bodog and the online gambling industry. However, Baines’ latest epistle marked the point where harmless hater becomes unhinged stalker, so we feel we need to let David know, in as gentle a manner as possible, that he’s no longer ‘ha ha’ funny.

Calvin-Ayre-David-Baines-obsessionIn order to convince his readers that Calvin truly does embody unseen evils, Baines starts his latest rant by reminding everyone that while Calvin was still in university, his father was jailed. As Baines himself admits, Calvin was never charged with any involvement in his father’s problems, but Baines is just sayin’ “just sayin.’”

From there, Baines moves on to Calvin being sanctioned by the BC Securities Commission in the 1990’s. Yes, a long time ago, fresh out of business school, Calvin got a brief up-close and personal look at public markets, and yes, the experience left a sour taste in his mouth. But whatever mistakes Calvin made, he knew he’d done nothing to warrant a criminal charge. As such, he felt no need to challenge the BCSC ruling because he already knew he’d had enough of stock exchanges. A quick search of this site or the wider web will reveal a legacy of passionate disdain for public markets and for those who fall victim to the lure of the initial public offering.

By spotlighting Calvin’s history with Bodog, Baines claims he’s only interested in protecting helpless citizens from ‘rogue’ operators. For the record, Calvin has previously been approved as a key person for gaming licenses in multiple jurisdictions around the globe, so again, Baines is just flat out wrong here. Meanwhile, he rubbishes licensing jurisdictions such as Kahnawake, Antigua, and any other than the one in which Baines presently resides. But Baines fails to acknowledge that the oversight provided in these other jurisdictions is more arms-length than anything currently on display in British Columbia. For a government increasingly dependent on revenues from its gaming division, conducting an ‘independent’ review that could slow or even stop those revenues is nigh on impossible. As Margaret Beare, professor of law at York University, observed, BC’s gaming body has “no reason to give a damn. Like everyone else, they’re in the business to make money.”

As for Baines’ lament that the nation of Antigua is “an offshore tax and secrecy haven that operates beyond the reach of US authorities,” he seems almost disappointed to learn that the US occasionally has to respect another nation’s sovereign status. Unlike, say, multiple World Trade Organization rulings in Antigua’s favor, which the US has repeatedly refused to respect. Just sayin’.

Baines’ reveals his obsession with Calvin in other ways. Baines now insists that he was never against the idea of private online gaming operators; he just hates the ones lacking licenses issued by the province of British Columbia. So why isn’t Baines devoting any vitriolic column inches to the likes of BetUS and, major gambling outfits operating freely out of Vancouver, right under Baines’ nose, with nary a BC gaming license in sight? The answer seems obvious to us: Baines doesn’t care about these companies because Calvin has no history with them.

Baines-Ayre-tub-stalkerCalvin does have a history with Bodog. A long one. He is the founder of the brand and group. The Bodog brand and its affiliated companies have been taking bets over the internet for a decade and a half now. If they truly were the ‘rogues’ that Baines claims, how then have they been able to maintain their highly regarded position in the online gambling marketplace? (Bodog brand spokesman Ed Pownall appears regularly on MSNBC to discuss the gaming industry. Time magazine used Bodog odds in 2010’s FIFA World Cup preview issue. The site uses Bodog odds. Hell, even the publication that prints Baines’ rants uses Bodog odds.) In an era of easily disseminated information, why hasn’t the Bodog brand’s name been so irreparably tarnished that no one in their right mind would trust them with their financial information? Why aren’t people falling for Baines’ song and dance?

As for Calvin having legal issues with the US gov’t, Baines produces no indictments, Interpol alerts, search warrants nor wanted posters to back up this claim. In fact, the US hasn’t arrested any foreign gambling operators for some time, especially now that it’s looking to get into the business for itself. A Bodog competitor, 888 Gaming, was recently approved by the Nevada Gaming Control Board as a suitable partner for Nevada casino companies. For the record, 888 pulled out of the US market in late 2006, just after the Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act was signed into law. That’s the same point at which Calvin sold the US-facing operation to Morris Mohawk Gaming Group.

David-Baines-Bodog-StraightjacketAnd that’s something that Baines can’t quite seem to grasp. Calvin isn’t actually running a gaming company anymore. Calvin controls, which licenses the Bodog brand to independent companies in different jurisdictions, such as Europe and Asia. Calvin’s role nowadays is strictly as a brand ambassador and, oh yeah, he’s also a shiny new online media mogul. is only just approaching its official first anniversary, but it has already gained a reputation as the preeminent site covering the global online gaming industry today. We even count David Baines among our growing audience, and while we’re glad he’s finally reading real news for a change, we think he’d have a far greater understanding of this industry if he read more than just the articles in which his name appears. All the same, we appreciate him promoting this site via his column. After all the negative stunts Baines has pulled, it’s nice to see him at least attempting to make amends by bearing some of Calvin’s water.

Of course, we’d be remiss if we failed to mention that just last week, Baines lost a libel lawsuit brought by a former Canadian senator based on an article Baines wrote in 2008. The trial judge ordered Baines to pay $30k in damages, not an insignificant sum for an insignificant tabloid writer. Despite this blow to his wallet (and his credibility), Baines chose to double-down on his attacks on Calvin just a few days later. We’re tempted to believe that Baines is hoping to get us to respond in kind, i.e. using half-truths and innuendo to besmirch his name, in the hope that Baines could then sue us for libel and maybe make good some of his losses. If so, sorry, Dave. Better you should deposit what’s left of your paycheck into and try your luck at the slots. Better still, deposit it at, the new or any of the other private, internationally-licensed, regulated and respected online gambling destinations. We understand their payout rate is far better.


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