The Cabana Club at Resorts World Manila was the place to be Saturday night as it played host to the inaugural Bodog Gaming Conference and Party. Perhaps Party and Conference would be more accurate, given the duration of the party exceeded the conference segment by a factor of 12 or so. But we guess the mere fact that it was a Bodog shindig should have tipped everyone that the medicine would be accompanied by a spoonful of sugar and/or several barrels of grain alcohol. (It’s all simple carbohydrates in the end, right? Tomato, tomahto…)
The edumacational portion of the program kicked off with Felicity Croft of UK Premier League football side Arsenal, who discussed the club’s ongoing efforts to boost their profile in Asia. Part of that push comes via the recent inking of their three-year Asian-facing betting partnership with Bodog, who Croft said match Arsenal in terms of their Asian ambitions. Croft noted that there were 2b Premier League fans across Asia, and Arsenal intended to make each one of them feel every bit as important to the club as their UK fans.
Bodog’s global head of PR Ed Pownall talked up the potential of the Asian poker market. Pownall stopped short of saying Asia was in the midst of a poker boom, but he saw encouraging signs that Asian players were coming around. Pownall believes the fully anonymous features of the Bodog recreational poker model held particular appeal for Asian players, who understand that bluffing is an integral part of the game, unlike the concept of gaining an unfair advantage over an opponent through the use of digital data scraping tools.
Up next was Ian Sherrington, the new Asian biz-dev director for online gambling software solutions outfit EveryMatrix. In a decidedly informal style that occasionally recalled a Louis C.K. performance, Sherrington talked up the mammoth potential of the Asian online gambling market, already worth an annual $1.7b, more than half of which comes from sports betting. With EveryMatrix having joined the ranks of online gambling companies setting up shop in Manila, Sherrington noted the positive influence the industry was having on the local economy.
That theme was picked up by Bodog Asia as they previewed some images of the Bodog Campus, the new all-in-one office complex Bodog is building in Manila’s Entertainment City development. Also announced that the Calvin Ayre Foundation had donated 2 Million Pesos to the ABS-CBN Foundation, the charitable arm of the country’s leading television network.
And just like that, the conference portion was over. Good thing, too, as the ice cubes in some people’s drinks had come perilously close to melting. Following a brief interlude to line one’s stomach with food in preparation for the massive intake of alcohol to follow, the party at the Republiq Club – transformed for the night into a Roaring ‘20s prohibition-themed speakeasy dubbed The Bodog Gin Joint – was on, baby.
With Black Eyed Pea Apl De Ap spinning tracks from the deejay booth, the crowd danced up a storm, grabbed stogies from the cigar bar and drank themselves stupid(er). And in case you thought your foggy memory banks were playing tricks on you, yes, there really were scores of midgets wandering through the crowd brandishing Thompson submachine guns. And yes, there were 150 Bodog Girls in attendance, which helped significantly in boosting the crowd’s overall aesthetic appeal, but many slack-jawed observers still found the Bodog Live Dealer girls to be the belles of this here ball.
With everyone in attendance appearing to have had a grand time, it’s safe to say the inaugural Bodog Gaming Conference and Party in Manila was a hit. Who knows? Maybe next year, they’ll stretch the talking portion to a whole hour.