San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Billionaire Could Bring More TV Filming Here

Online gambling magnate Calvin Ayre says that despite the “bump in the road” during the recent filming of a television program here in Costa Rica, he might bring two more television productions to the country and begin filming as soon as September.

Ayre filmed a reality show/poker tournament in Costa Rica earlier this year, titled Calvin Ayre’s Wild Card Poker, for the Fox Sports channel, during which his home was raided mid-shoot by Costa Rican police who suspected illegal gambling was occurring at his house in Santa Ana, southwest of San José (TT, March 17). Police, who based their suspicions on an article in the daily Al Día, found no gambling at the time of the raid.

Ayre said he would be more open with the media here before bringing subsequent programming to Costa Rica and work more closely with police to avoid similar problems.

“TV production, seen from the outside, if you don’t know that that’s what it is, can look like a number of strange things,” Ayre told The Tico Times. “So before we start shooting (for future shows), I’m going to be sending press statements out telling everybody what we’re doing.”

Ayre says he is involved with three television programs in pre-production.

“Two of them are quite likely to have components here in Costa Rica,” he said. All are reality shows – one is a lifestyle show, one a music show and the third is a sports show, he explained.

He said that Calvin Ayre’s Wild Card Poker has already been broadcast in Canada and the United States and received higher ratings than he had expected.

The raid was not included in the final edit of the program, but he said it would likely be reedited into an Internet version of the show.

“But we’re not going to do it in such a way that will make Costa Rica look bad, just add a little excitement to the show.”

Ayre has insisted that he was not hosting gambling in his home, as police alleged, but in fact had held a poker contest in which players did not bet any money, rather played a game of skill for a $500,000 prize of his own funds. He added that the tournament scenes were filmed at Channel 7 studios, not at his home.

The raid occurred the day after Ayre appeared on the cover of Forbes Magazine’s annual issue of the richest people in the world, where he ranked 746.

Ayre, whose company Bodog Entertainment Group has expanded from online gambling to include several other areas including a record company and television production, is worth at least $1 billion, according to Forbes.


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