There may be no more important and well-known brand in the North American online gambling market than that of Bodog. The flashy, aspirational brand and its bombastic owner were everywhere in the early 2000s. However, the events of 2006 and 2011 shuttered the brand in the United States and Canada. The brand lives on in other jurisdictions, including the one we are going to review today, Bodog88.
When Calvin Ayre started the Bodog brand, he had world domination on his mind. He was damn near close to achieving it when an ill-advised article in Forbes magazine and the passing of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act in 2006. While Ayre has managed not only to survive this but reinvent himself, the brand he built was sold and continues to be a leader in markets outside North America.
The first thing you will notice about Bodog88 these days is that the URL has changed to bdg693.com. This is likely due to ISPs blocking the original site, and the company has to create a new URL that hasn’t landed on a blacklist yet. Regardless, when you get to the site, you will find the same iconic logo and design that made it so recognizable in the first place.
Bodog88 (we’ll keep calling it by that name for now) is owned and operated by Haydock Sports, which has connections back to the old Bodog brand. However, it sure looks like this site is conforming to its surroundings – just look at the list of countries that are banned from playing at this site:
Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bolivia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Ecuador, Egypt, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, Iran, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Mexico, Morocco, Netherlands, Nicaragua, Norway, Oman, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Slovakia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Tanzania, Turkey, United Kingdom, Uruguay, Venezuela, Vietnam, Yemen
Most players from these countries who try to register for an account are given an error message and redirected to Bodog.eu.
With a familiar look and feel from a branding perspective, getting settled into Bodog88 was relatively simple. The site forces you to choose your bonus before you can see the betting screens, which is somewhat of a pain, but that’s not a deal breaker. When you get to the betting screens, you can really see the difference between a North-American or European facing sportsbook and one focused on the Asia market. Most notably, when you are searching for a game to bet on, you are first given a choice of what kind of bet you want to make. This is radically different than selecting the team and then adjusting the bet type. We aren’t sure which one we like better, but as we have reviewed far fewer Asian-facing sites, it still feels a bit cumbersome to make bets this way.
Regardless, the betting process was still pain-free, and we were able to make bets easily. The site offers all the major sports, many of which are still growing in popularity in Asia. Not surprisingly, the eSports and Virtual Sports sections are full of options, and with the continued growth of these segments of the market, Bodog88 clearly wants to be a leader for those looking to bet on these computer games.
Bodog88 also offers a robust casino product to their players. Driven by multiple software suppliers such as Microgaming and Real Time Gaming (Bodog owns a copy of the latter), there are hundreds of great games to choose from. What we like about this casino is the way the slots are grouped. Most casinos allow you to filter by popularity or the newest games, but at Bodog88 you can see games filtered by theme. This is excellent for players who want to find the best branded content but don’t want to scroll through a bunch of animal-themed games as well. Throw in some excellent Table Games and Video Poker, and players get an excellent gaming experience without ever stepping foot into the sportsbook.
Poker players can also get their fix at Bodog 88 with its poker client. The poker software comes from PaiWangLuo, which is the company that purchased the Bodog Poker brand, but this site is not pooled into the same liquidity as the other brands. Still, players will find cash games and tournaments to play while they are waiting for their sports bets to close and hopefully cash.
Mobile play in Asia is very popular, but with the gambling laws the way they are, there isn’t much of a chance currently for native apps to be adopted. While players in many Asian countries wait for the mobile platform providers to ease their stance on gambling apps, players are forced to use the browsers on their devices to access the Bodog88 site.
Now, this option isn’t a poor one – the games and site itself have all been modified to fit the screen size of most phones and tablets. Of course, bookmarked URLs may not work if the company has to keep changing its location, but that is a minor hitch. The games we tried all played just as well on our phones, and assuming you have a strong connection then you should have no issues.
Bodog was once known for its amazing inspirational promotions, giving players a glimpse into the life of its billionaire bachelor owner’s lifestyle. While many of these promotions died on the vine when the company had to shift gears, there are still some glimpses of the old days when you look at the Bodog88 offers.
Sportsbook players won’t be thrilled by what they find when they get to this site for the first time. The Welcome Bonuses (there are two to choose from) are casino based. There was a sportsbook offer which we didn’t see at the time of writing this review, but we are sure that if you contact the casino, they will find a way to take care of you.
The casino bonuses are pretty straightforward. You can select a 150% bonus which has a higher maximum amount or a 200% bonus with a lower maximum amount. In either case, you will have to wager at least 15x to clear the bonus, which is actually pretty aggressive so it may be worth your time to simply take this bonus and play through it before hitting the sportsbook.
Bodog Amazing Race
This promotion is awesome. Based on the popular game show, you earn “miles” by playing real money casino games, and then as you move through each of the stages of the game, a series of fantastic prizes are awarded. What we like about this promotion is how many tangible gifts there are to be won. Too often these days, gaming sites want to give away bonus dollars, so the money stays on the site, but the value of a gift like electronics is far higher in a players mind than the equivalent cash value.
This is a multi-tiered promotion that has an end date, but the site seems to like it so much that is recurring on the platform. We hope Bodog88 keeps great offers like this around for a long time to come.
The payment options at Bodog88 are limited when compared to sites open to players from around the world, but this doesn’t seem to stop the company from thriving. In Asia, UnionPay is used for almost all online transactions, and this is an option at Bodog88, along with bank transfers, debit cards, and Bitcoin.
What is great about this site is that there are no fees charged for withdrawals, and you can get paid in as few as 30 minutes after making the request. This makes those of us in other jurisdictions very jealous.
If you need to get a hold of someone at Bodog88 for any reason, there are several ways to contact the site. We suggest you check out the FAQ section first, as most of the common issues are dealt with in detail here. Otherwise, you can contact the support department by Live Chat, email, and telephone, although if you call them, you may be subject to some long distance charges.
Considering the roller coaster that the Bodog brand has been on for over a decade, it is great to see it flourishing in the Asian market. Bodog88 does an excellent job of tailoring its offering for the Asian market and offers more than just a sportsbook to those looking to gamble. We are happy to recommend this site to players who can access it in Asia.