‘Craig is Satoshi’: a former online gambling mogul’s contentious campaign to change Bitcoin’s future

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Sitting in a small ballroom at the Midtown Sheraton Hotel in Manhattan, Calvin Ayre is trying to remember his last trip to New York City. He may remember throwing a party in the Rainbow Room above Rockefeller Center and hanging out with big actors like Bruce Willis and Luke Wilson, but the event was a long time ago. Busta Rhymes performed, and Victoria’s Secret models mingled among the crowd.

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“That was a fun party,” says Ayre of the 2006 bash. “I went to New York for the last time.”

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Ayre did not set foot in New York for the next 16 years, and it was unclear if he would ever return. For a long time, Ayre avoided entering the United States for fear that he might be arrested. But Ayre says he never doubted he would return.

“I was not a criminal,” Ayre says of his fight with the US government. “I was embroiled in an international trade dispute.”

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In 2012, federal prosecutors uncovered an indictment filed against Ayre that claimed he was operating an illegal online gambling business that was taking large amounts of sports bets from Americans. He fought the case from his native Canada and his home on the Caribbean island of Antigua. Five years later, the US government dropped the felony charges filed against Ayre, who pleaded guilty to a minor felony, a single misdemeanor charge.

At the age of 60, Ayre returned to New York this past fall, not as an online gambling promoter, but as an evangelist for Bitcoin SV, which Ayre claims is true and authentic bitcoin as it is the only digital currency. It is a currency that follows a set of rules, or protocols, set forth by the white paper that launched bitcoin in 2008. He organized a three-day conference at the Sheraton as part of his overall crusade, an effort that includes funding several companies and a media organization dedicated to Bitcoin SV. ,

Ayre says that Bitcoin SV is powered by a revolutionary technology that has many useful applications, while the digital currency that most people know as bitcoin is worthless and fraudulent. He says that the group of developers maintaining and updating the bitcoin protocol, moving the bitcoin BTCUSD, violated the way it was established in the first place,
In a direction that was not originally intended to limit its usefulness.

“It’s definitely a Ponzi scheme because it can’t do anything,” says Ayre of bitcoin trading.

A significant part of Ayre’s discovery rests on the support of Craig Wright and Wright’s claim that he is Satoshi Nakamoto, the pseudonym used by the elusive inventor of bitcoin. A fun-loving Australian entrepreneur, Wright has declared since 2016 that he is the man who launched bitcoin against the firestorm of suspicion and skepticism from digital currency players. Ayre and Wright have supported Bitcoin SV, which stands for “Bitcoin Satoshi Vision”, with trade allegations of deceit and fraud with those who believe Wright’s Satoshi claim to be bogus.

“I will present evidence regarding the creation of my bitcoins,” Wright said in an email. “It matters because what is being called bitcoin (BTC) is not, it is BSV.”

Either way, investors are not convinced. Bitcoin recently changed hands for $41,000 and has a market capitalization of $777 billion, according to CoinMarketCapWhile the market capitalization of Bitcoin SV is $2 billion. The market cap of Bitcoin SV has recently fallen below obscure cryptocurrencies like PancakeSwap and Helium. Ayre, who has been involved in bitcoin since its early days, points the finger at major cryptocurrency exchanges, such as Coinbase Coin,
and Binance, which refuses to list Bitcoin SV, and Silicon Valley venture capitalists who are fueling a cryptocurrency frenzy. Coinbase and Binance did not respond to requests for comment.

“Craig is Satoshi,” says Ayre. “I think everything you call crypto will die, a lot of it will be deemed illegal, as regulators start to understand more – a lot of people are going to lose a lot of money.”


Craig Wright arrives at the Federal Courtyard in Miami on November 16, 2021. (AP Photo/Marta Lavandier)

On a Friday in the summer in 2017, an edict occurred in Room 7D of the Federal Court in downtown Baltimore. A judge presided over the proceedings which included a US prosecutor and a defense attorney. But this was no ordinary court session. The respondent was not in the courtroom. He was 2900 miles away.

“Good morning, your honour,” said a voice, which could be heard through the speaker of a telephone, according to the court’s transcript. “It’s Mr. Calvin Eyre.”

As part of a complex plea deal that Ayre negotiated with the US government, federal prosecutors agreed that Ayre would not appear in his own indictment. The unorthodox arrangement gave Ayre a layer of protection from the judge, who would sentence him, and was not bound by Ayre’s deals with federal prosecutors. Ayre joined the proceedings from the security of his attorney’s office in Vancouver, Canada.

,“I think everything you call crypto will die, a lot of it will be deemed illegal, as regulators start to understand more – a lot of people are going to lose a lot of money.”,

— Calvin Ayre

Ayre is one of the world’s foremost online gambling pioneers. The son of pig farmers in Saskatchewan, he began in the 1990s to become Bodog, one of the first large online gambling brands. Initially operating out of Costa Rica, Ayre promoted Bodog by throwing lavish parties, Las Vegas conventions, and music competitions. Very few wore “Bodog Girls” who attended Bodog events and were often photographed with Ayre. in 2006, Forbes The magazine put Ayre on the cover of its Billionaires issue and a Article About him under the title “Catch Me If You Can”.

In the US, the world’s largest online gambling market, prosecutors took a position when all online gambling violated a decades-old federal law, while federal lawmakers passed new legislation in 2006 that focused on payments associated with online gambling. This led to a US government crackdown on the booming online poker industry in 2011, which led to the closure of the largest offshore websites catering to American players, and the indictment of 11 men. He eventually pleaded guilty to all of the felony charges. Individual prison terms were up to three years, and the associated forfeiture exceeded $700 million.

A year later, in 2012, it was Ayre’s turn. brought charges against Rod Rosenstein, the US attorney in Baltimore at the time ayre, claiming that between 2005 and 2012 he operated an illegal gambling business involving online sports betting, US federal prosecutors confiscated Bodog’s domain name and said Ayre participated in an effort that paid off Instructed the processor to send at least $100 million by wire and check to the gambler. Located in Maryland and elsewhere. Ayre denies that it has violated US law, saying that Bodog operates under license from Antigua and that the US is in breach of international trade obligations under the World Trade Organization, which gives Bodog access to the US market. does not do. “I was running a legitimate sports book,” says Ayre on TODAY. “All winners were paid.”

When Ayre finally settled with the US government, Rosenstein joined the Trump administration in 2017 as deputy attorney general. Ayre pleaded guilty to a single misdemeanor offense of accessory after the fact of the transmission of gambling information, and was sentenced to one year of unsecured probation and a $500,000 fine. Ayre also agreed not to claim the $67 million in funds that public prosecutors had confiscated from companies that processed payments for Bodog. This means Ayre was out of $67 million, as he paid $67 million separately to make up for Bodog’s US gambling clients, court filings show. The legal battle was over. On its website, Ayre posted a picture of you As bare-chested actor Tim Robbins in the prison escape scene from the movie “The Shawshank Redemption,” his arms were outstretched in the rain.

By this time, Ayre had already been involved in bitcoin for years. Many online gambling entrepreneurs took an early interest in bitcoin. The need to find payment processors ready to facilitate transactions for an industry that often operates outside the mainstream banking system has made digital currencies interesting for those involved in online gambling. Ayre says he invested in his first bitcoin company that experimented with the technology in 2010 and began buying bitcoins a short time later. “I bought a lot of it when it was really cheap,” Ayre says.

Craig Wright did some consulting work for Ayre in 2011, but the two first met in person in June 2015 at Ayre’s Vancouver penthouse apartment, almost a year before Wright publicly declared himself to be Satoshi Nakamoto. Over a glass of red wine, Ayre says that Wright told him that he wrote the famous nine-page white paper in 2008 that launched bitcoin, but that opportunists were turning his vision for bitcoin into something he did. did not do …


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