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Riptown Employees Rip Bodog: Fiver, Bodog Fight Much the Same

Written by:
C Costigan
Published on:
Aug/28/2008
Bodog

Following news that Bodog (BodogLife.com) had laid off a few hundred people the past week and has had greater difficulties paying customers and vendors than most other wagering establishments due to an inability to find sufficient processors, the company has tried to suggest that the layoffs (or terminations depending on how you look at it) were not directly related to Bodog but rather its "support companies", Fiver and Riptown Media. For the record, these companies are all affiliated and owned by one single organization and tied into the Bodog brand.

To be fair, Gambling911.com has always considered Bodog one of the best run companies in online gambling in terms of work environment and the ability to retain good employees. We know of people who have been with the company for nearly a decade if not longer...at least until this past week. During its pinnacle, long time employees of the company seemed to be more than content.

Some of these individuals were among the hardest working, brightest, articulate people we have ever run across in this industry. The list can be written on more than two hands. It's no accident that Bodog became a huge success. Founder and one time CEO Calvin Ayre had a brilliant support staff behind him. Without some of these key people, Ayre would no doubt still be floundering around Costa Rica today trying to tell apart his ass from his elbow. To his credit, it always seemed his key people had been well taken care of, and deservedly so. Ayre would always tell us how important certain individuals were to his organization.

Unfortunately, management changes - even in the best of companies - tend to throw things awry. Gambling911.com otherwise finds it difficult to explain what is taking place internally at Bodog over the past few months. Money losses along with unprecedented growth perhaps have compounded the issue.

It's true also that most "essential" employees were told they would have to move from Vancouver to outside of Quebec, the Kahnawake Reservation where Bodog is licensed.

To get a sense of how people associated with Bodog have been feeling over the past year, there are job-related posting forums that paint quite a grim picture of the company, different than what we observed over the last 6 years.

We first got an indication of what might be transpiring internally when Bodog Fight - the company's Mixed Martial Arts enterprise - seemingly shut down overnight. While it was clear Bodog Fight was nothing more than a loss leader, MMA fighter and now Republican Oregon Congressman, Matt Lindland, claims he is owed money by Bodog and that the company failed to honor its contract.

When Matt Lindland signed with Bodog Fight, he inked a three-fight, one-year deal. That deal expired with two of the three fights remaining.

In an interview with MMAWeekly.com, Lindland spoke about his tenure with BodogFight and his frustrations with the Calvin Ayre-owned promotion's business practices.

"I lived up to my end of the bargain," said the Greco-Roman wrestling Olympic silver-medalist. "I haven't fought since April, anticipating two more fights with Bodog.

"I was exclusive with them for that period of time. That's why I hadn't done any negotiations outside of that contract. I was upholding my end of the bargain and dealing with them with integrity and honesty. I was being forthright, but they weren't doing such. It was very difficult."

Explaining his contract situation with Bodog Fight, Lindland said, "My contract was with Sixth Row Productions. Bodog and Sixth Row intermingled funds. I mean, I could go after Bodog Fight, but they have no assets. They set up these shell companies and they're not paying their fighters. They don't honor their contracts. It was very disappointing."

Similar situation with Bodog Music, the company's promotion recording arm.

Bodog Music had enjoyed some degree of success through its "Battle of the Bands" program.

One posting on the Vancouver employment website, Discover Vancouver, seems to echo what Lindland has gone through.

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I am a friend of a former a US employee who worked for their Battle of the Bands program in the United States. They payed them as contractors for 2006 and 2007 to avoid the IRS and then through a shell payroll service in Burbank California. Every vendor they do business through is funded by Bodog, created by Bodog and Bodog is their only client.

They lost 38 million dollars in 2007 because some asshats at Riptown didn't bother to make sure that their domains were registered outside the US and they got sued for 49 million dollars over a patent infringement case which severely hurt their earnings. So just like all the other vendors they did business through who's only clients were Bodog, they went and bought their own registrar to prevent anyone from taking control of thier domains again. Of course those douchebags still have their jobs while all the other projects funding was cut. Over 200 talented people were just canned with NO warning.

Story is this: Bodog/Riptown got sued in July/August of 2007 for a method patent. Around that time Calvin Ayre transferred licensing/ownership of North American Operations to Morris Mohawk Gaming which is on an Indian Reservation in Montreal to further buffer himself from US DOJ laws. Around that time Calvin started doing video blogs stressing that he had no interests or assets inside the United States. If that was the case, then why did they shuffle so quickly after shutting down the entire music division inside the united states and send 3 thugs to that office to seize all the equipment in that office in a rented vehicle they then used to transfer the equipment back to another vehicle they drove into the US from Canada? If calvin was so sure that he was clean in the US, why was it so important to seize that equipment that was being used to run the US arm of the record label, an LLC again, who's only client was Bodog?

If Calvin Ayre was so sure he had no assets in the United states then why in 2007 did he have all the local managers who worked for Bodog Battle of the Bands divide up about a million dollars in ticket sales into 5-9K deposits to Bank of America accounts across the United States in order to smuggle the money out of the country so not to spark the interest of the IRS?

Riptown Media is no longer, but is now www.fivermedia.com and if you look at their website they say they have offices in Vancouver and Toronto just as riptown did and the adresses are the same exact locations as their riptown offices were. LOL.

To each his own, all the employees will go on with their lives and learn lessons from this. If you want to work for a company that 'seems' cool up front but will toss you to the curb when the heat is on regardless of how talented or successful you made them then feel free. I know that outside the gamling industry no one respects this brand and no one give them any credit for thier success as large as they might be. Business is business and Bodog had to do what they had to do to protect themsleves but people have a right know that they are putting themselves at risk when working for an online gambling company. These people do not care about you or your future or well being. As long as you bust your ass working tireless hours for them providing your talent to them they will be cool... until they are ready to close shop and start all over again like they have done when they were esports.com, kazootek.com, riptown.com and a slew of other shell companies.

Obviously riptown and fiver media employees monitor this thread. To you I say anyone who works for you is signing a pact with the devil.

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Bodog CEO Alwyn Morris has confirmed that last week's layoffs have nothing to do with the music or fight arm of his company. The majority of those employees were let go months ago when it was clear that Bodog could no longer survive maintaining those money losing entities.

"The layoffs in question have actually taken place with a firm that provides Bodog some software and marketing support, but we are confident their service levels to us have not been, and will not be affected," Morris said in a statement this week.

A move from Vancouver to Montreal might seem an equal enough trade to some, but not if you have to work miles outside Montreal in what many consider one of the least liveliest of places - the Kahnawake Reservation. This is not to downplay Kahnawake as they are certainly a well run enterprise - reminding many of us of the Seminoles down here in South Florida. Nonetheless, it's a dramatic change of lifestyle and an abrupt one that may very well have contributed to a chaotic management structure. Ayre's sudden departure and processing issues can't be helping matters.

But with more potential layoffs will come more angry employees, many of whom have been posting comments on the Gambling911.com website and at the Toronto Tech Jobs Forum.

Sources within the organization believe Bodog will continue catering to US players throughout the football season. But the NFL and College Football hold percentages are typically around 6 percent during a good season (the "hold" is the "profit" or money the company keeps). Some recent football seasons have been bloody to say the least and with processing issues the way they are, there is a very good chance Bodog could exit the US market and try to enter Europe, something they have had a very tough time doing up to this point.

"It's really bad at Bodog," a Gambling911 source disclosed. "They want to pay people (customers). That's not the issue. The problem is they can't find processing. The processors are out there but none of them want to deal with Bodog right now because they are considered such a high profile target."

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Christopher Costigan, Gambling911.com Publisher

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