Bonus Q&A: West Virginia Lottery’s Myers on Illegal Gambling Site ‘Cease and Desist’ Letter

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Bovada may not be the only illegal online gambling site the West Virginia gaming regulator is ordering to leave the state. On July 5, the West Virginia Lottery director hinted to Bonus that other sites may be included in the regulator’s “cease and desist” letter.

Bonus asked Lottery Director John A. Myers the following question:

Please let me know about your Bovada cease and desist letter. Why just Bovada and not more illegal gambling sites?

Myers responded to Bonus on July 5:

That is an incorrect assumption.

So, the West Virginia gaming regulator sent a letter to Curaçao-based Harp Media ordering it to shut down its illegal gambling site, Bovada. However, more illegal offshore sites may have received the letter, too.

Myers didn’t say.

Instead, he suggested Bonus submit a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to obtain a copy of the letter sent on June 27. Bonus had already done so on July 3 at the behest of a member of his office staff.

West Virginia Takes Action

West Virginia law allows regulated online casinos, poker rooms, and sportsbooks to operate. Legal West Virginia online casino and sports betting operators have been accepting wagers for years.

Bovada, however, is illegal and unregulated.

Colorado and Michigan gaming regulators recently sent Harp Media “cease and desist” letters about the Bovada site. Each piece of correspondence notified Harp Media that Bovada violated state civil and criminal law and threatened legal action if the site didn’t shut down.

Bonus noticed on June 20 that Bovada’s site recently added those states to its “restricted” list, meaning US online gamblers in the following states couldn’t access the site. Colorado and Michigan joined the end of Bovada’s closed roll:

  • Nevada
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • Maryland
  • Delaware
  • Michigan
  • Colorado

So, Bonus asked Myers if the actions of Colorado and Michigan influenced West Virginia’s choices.

Myers told Bonus on July 5:

Yes, but also a tip from AGA.

The gambling industry trade group American Gaming Association (AGA) has been pushing for the expulsion of illegal offshore online gambling sites for years. In 2022, the AGA endorsed a congressional letter that urged US Attorney General Merrick Garland to pursue legal action against sites including BetOnline, Bovada, and MyBookie.

It’s unclear what the AGA “tip” was without a copy of West Virginia’s letter.

Bonus called the AGA press office on July 5, and got this response:

AGA has been advocating for other states to follow the example of Michigan and Colorado in using the tools at their disposal, including ‘cease and desist’ orders, to combat offshore gambling operators.

Myers May Not Stop There

Because the Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB) notified Bovada’s vendors that they might face legal action or license revocation if they continued to partner with the illegal site in Michigan, Bonus asked Myers the following:

Will you also take legal action against vendors serving Bovada?

Myers answered Bonus using a plural pronoun, again hinting that the cease and desist letter may have named more illegal sites than Bovada:

We will decide future actions based on their response.

Finally, Bonus asked Myers:

Why now?

Myers told Bonus on July 5:

We constantly strive to provide fair gaming for our players and licensees.

About the Author

Heather Fletcher

Heather Fletcher

Heather Fletcher is Lead Writer at Bonus, concentrating on online casino coverage. She specializes in breaking news, legislative coverage, and gambling marketing strategy overviews. To reach Heather with a news tip, email [email protected].
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