Bovada Exits Michigan and Colorado in Response to Regulatory Crackdown

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Black market gambling site Bovada has heeded the warnings of state gaming regulators, adding Colorado and Michigan to list of states it will not serve. The Michigan Gaming Control Board sent a “cease and desist” letter on May 29 to Bovada’s owner, Harp Media.

According to SBCAmericas, Colorado sent a similar letter the following week, although Bonus has not obtained a copy of that letter.

More states are likely to appear on the list shortly. Connecticut took similar steps on June 4 and Bonus confirmed on June 20 that Massachusetts is considering it.

As of June 20, Bovada updated its Terms & Conditions to read:

Bovada remains open to United States residents, except for those living in Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Maryland, Delaware, Michigan and Colorado.

Bonus would like to emphasize that Bovada is illegal everywhere in the US due to the 2006 Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act. However, it has only exited the market on a state-by-state basis when explicitly ordered to do so by regulators.

UPDATE: 06/24/24 — Colorado Responds

On June 24, Derek Kuhn — DMV and Tax Communications Supervisor V, Colorado Department of Revenue (CDR) — told Bonus:

On June 7, 2024, the Colorado Division of Gaming sent a cease-and-desist letter to Bovada. The Division’s stance is that Bovada was offering gambling activity in Colorado which they were not licensed to offer. Please note the cease-and-desist letter was not the result of an investigation, rather, it was the result of dedicated public servants working diligently to ensure honesty and integrity in the Colorado gaming industry.

The Division of Gaming appreciates Bovada’s quick actions to ensure compliance with Colorado laws and regulations.

The CDR’s specialized business group, the Division of Gaming (CDG), told Harp Media in the letter dated June 4:

In operating this website, you are offering illegal sports betting, which carries both criminal and civil penalties. In accordance with this, the Division demands you cease all unlicensed sports betting at once.

If Bovada doesn’t comply, Colorado’s regulator threatened criminal and civil action.

Michigan Regulator Continues to Monitor the Situation

The Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB) noticed the illegal site Bovada’s change in its “restricted” states list. If the site hadn’t ceased and desisted, the regulator planned on taking legal action against it and, eventually, against its suppliers.

Lisa Keith, MGCB’s public information officer, told Bonus on June 20:

The Michigan Gaming Control Board is encouraged to see that Bovada has now identified Michigan as a restricted state on their website. While this is a good indication that they are taking our cease-and-desist letter seriously, we will continue to closely monitor the status of their offerings in Michigan and take appropriate action as deemed necessary.

Connecticut May Be Next Market Exit for Bovada

Connecticut’s regulator sent Harp Media a letter threatening criminal and civil penalties if the illegal online gambling site Bovada doesn’t cease and desist operations in the state. The letter states that the company is violating state law and must allow Nutmeggers to withdraw their funds.

On June 20, Kaitlyn Krasselt emailed Bonus a copy of the Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection (DCP) letter to Harp.

DCP Communications Director Krasselt had talked to Bonus on June 13, a day before the date on the “cease and desist” letter:

There are only three companies licensed to operate in Connecticut.

Connecticut’s legal online casinos and sportsbooks are DraftKings (DraftKings 39,48 +4,28%), Fanatics, FanDuel, and FanDuel Group-powered Mohegan Sun Casino.

Massachusetts Is Nearing a Decision

On June 12, members of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) discussed what to do about the illegal online gambling site Bovada. However, the body didn’t vote.

During the June 20 MGC meeting, the closest the body came to discussing the matter was deciding which “MGC-authorized” logo to provide to legal online sportsbook operators in the state. It will allow gamblers to click on the logo to visit an MGC page that lists regulated operators.

Illegal Bovada isn’t among those operators.

Thomas Mills, MGC communications division chief, told Bonus on June 20:

The Commission is aware of the action taken by Michigan.

During the Commission’s last agenda setting meeting on June 12, Commissioners asked legal counsel to begin to prepare an update on work with the Commonwealth’s Attorney General office. This update has not been scheduled for a public meeting of the Commission yet, but when it is, it will be put on an agenda and noticed 48 hours ahead of the meeting date.

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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