Calvin Ayre, a gambling and bitcoin multi-millionaire who was once on the run from the US authorities, is building a $100m five-star resort on Antigua funded by profits from digital currencies.
Canadian-born Ayre, who has been appointed Antigua and Barbuda’s special economic envoy, said he had begun work on the upmarket tourist resort on Antigua’s Valley Church beach.
Ayre, who pleaded guilty to a single federal misdemeanour last year after a decade on the run from the US investigators, said the Ayre Resort would be entirely funded by profits made from the rise in value of bitcoin in which he was an early investor.
Gaston Browne, the prime minister of Antigua and Barbuda, said: “We expect the resort’s novel and exciting concept to broaden Antigua and Barbuda’s tourism product and bring a new category of tourists to our islands. We look forward to working with Mr Ayre on this resort and the many other investments he has made in Antigua.”
Ayre, 56, to whom Antigua and Barbuda has given the official title of “his excellency”, said: “This resort will attract a totally new market segment of tourism on the island — successful wellness-seekers who also want to have fun. The property will not be an all-inclusive destination. Instead, its amenities will be available to residents of Antigua and Barbuda and visitors alike.”
The resort will accept bitcoin cash, which forked from bitcoin last year, at point of sale terminals on the property and through its online booking engine.
Ayre, whose pig-farmer father was convicted of smuggling marijuana, was barred from acting as a director of a public company in British Columbia following a share-trading scandal in the 1990s. He recovered from that setback to create Bodog, one of the largest online gambling brands in the world, and the business’s growth led to him judging televised lingerie contests during the Super Bowl and being the subject of a six-page profile in Playboy magazine— Ayre bought 3,000 copies of the issue for himself.
The success of Bodog attracted the attention of US authorities when Forbes magazine profiled Ayre with a front cover entitled: “Catch Me If You Can: Calvin Ayre has gotten very rich by taking illegal bets over the internet.”
Ayre said his actions were legal because of a complex series of financial transactions on three different continents. Felony charges against Ayre, Bodog and three other Canadian men were dropped last year.