This is a guest contribution by Alun Bowden of Eilers & Krejcik Gaming. If you would like to submit a contribution please contact Bill Beatty for submission details. Thank you.
The first time I was aware of Calvin was when he died. Or rather when the first incarnation of the character that is Calvin Ayre shuffled off this immortal virtual coil. Cole Turner, as he was then, was killed off in a publicity stunt and Calvin emerged from the ashes. It wasn’t the last big stunt he would pull but it was the first time we really began to see a little behind the carefully constructed image.
Calvin was always unique in this industry. The old world of online gambling was as opaque as a hockey puck. It was a place where everyone had a pseudonym, nobody admitted to owning anything and most people were talked about in whispers and codenames. It was a business run from offshore and nobody was quite sure where the lines were so best not to step over them with your name badge on.
So in many ways Calvin was a breath of fresh air. A personality in a world of anonymity. Someone who was happy to speak out about the industry and about his business. And while our paths haven’t crossed in many years now and his world is no longer mine and vice versa, in those olden days he was one of my favourite people to talk about the business with.
One of the big misconceptions about Calvin is he’s just a playboy, just a party animal, when in reality he’s a bit of a frustrated intellectual. A bit of a geek at heart I always thought. But make no mistake. What you see is what you get. And mostly he was just someone who wanted to drink and have fun and being Canadian when he drank…. he drank. A fact I found out to my cost way back in 2003.
I had been working at EGR for about a year and we decided to put on the first gathering of online gambling executives in the sector. We called it the Power 25 and it took place a stately home in the English countryside. It was a grand affair all told, with a panel of talks and it began, as these things normally do, with reception drinks on the first night.
I somehow found myself drinking with Mark Blandford, the founder of Sportingbet, Calvin and a few other executives in the sector. I was perhaps unprepared for the level of drinking that was taking place and after trying to keep up with Calvin for a while I belatedly realised the error of my ways. The man himself was still going strong as I retired to a floor in an adjacent room for a little rest.
I awoke the next day an hour late for my introductory talk surrounded by the chaos of the night still in my suit that was in no fit state for the day ahead. Frankly neither was I. I managed to scramble into some alternative clothes, looking more like a man heading to play 18 holes more than one about to host a conference. I arrived to some odd looks and took a seat with the other EGR folks.
My boss passed me a note over the table with a snarl. I opened it and read it. “You’re a ****,” it said and the snarl swapped to something almost resembling a grin. I couldn’t really argue. Thankfully it soon just became an anecdote and I somehow kept my job and some vestige of industry respect. I’d like to say I learned my lesson and never drank with Calvin again, but that would be a lie. A lunch where he introduced me to sambuca espressos lives in the memory. But I always made sure I never tried to keep up again.