Illegal Online Gambling Site Bovada Targeted By State Gaming Regulators

Online gamblers love to ask Google, “Is Bovada legit?” State gaming regulators say “no.” So now they’re following Michigan’s lead in targeting illegal online gambling site Bovada with “cease and desist” orders.

Bonus learned on June 13 that Connecticut’s letter will soon be sent to the illegal site’s owner, Curaçao-based Harp Media. Other state leaders are also discussing putting Harp on notice. A spokesman for the third state gaming regulator rumored to be drafting a letter, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC), didn’t immediately return a request for comment.

Meanwhile, some regulators have already succeeded at ridding their states of Harp’s app. The illegal site doesn’t accept bets in Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Maryland, or Delaware.

During this round of strongly worded letters, Michigan sent the first Harp notice on May 29.

The Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection (DCP) will soon mail the next cease and desist letter.

DCP Communications Director Kaitlyn Krasselt told Bonus on June 13:

It hasn’t been sent yet, but yes, a letter will be sent.

There are only three companies licensed to operate in Connecticut.

Fanatics Sportsbook partners with the Connecticut Lottery Corporation (CLC).

The dominant US online gambling operators, DraftKings (DraftKings 39,48 +4,28%) and FanDuel, partner with two Connecticut tribes. The tribes operate Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods Resort Casino. Respectively, the partnerships provide Nutmeggers with FanDuel Group-powered Mohegan Sun Casino and FanDuel Sportsbook, and DraftKings Casino and DraftKings Sportsbook.

In the parlance of online gamblers searching the web, DraftKings, Fanatics, and FanDuel’s legal sites are “legit.”

Vendors May Be Next

On May 30, the Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB) sent Bonus a news release detailing the contents of its letter to the site owner. Notably, the regulator gave Harp Media a grace period of 14 days before the MGCB took “legal action.”

On May 29, the MGCB told Harp Media that its illegal online gambling site was violating the following state laws:

  • Lawful Internet Gaming Act
  • Michigan Gaming Control and Revenue Act
  • Michigan Penal Code

Bonus checked with MGCB on June 13 about upcoming court dates. The board’s June 14 response is below.

Meanwhile, Bonus News Lead Writer Robyn McNeil reported that the MGCB may reconsider the gaming licenses of vendors working with illegal online gambling site Bovada.

Lisa Keith, MGCB’s public information officer, told Bonus for McNeil’s story that:

With this letter, we have made a clear statement that Bovada is violating Michigan laws. If Bovada fails to comply with the letter, we would strongly encourage any advertisers, affiliate marketers, payment processors, and other business partners of Bovada to sever ties to avoid potential licensing or legal consequences.

Keith told Bonus on June 14:

Bovada (Harp Media B.V.) has 14 days from ‘receipt’ of the letter to respond. The 14-day period has not expired yet. The MGCB continues to monitor the situation very closely to ensure they take the appropriate steps to prevent Michigan residents from gambling on their websites.

McNeil named some of the site’s suppliers who may be contacted by the board if the illegal site remains in Michigan:

  • Genesis Gaming (headquartered in Spring, Texas)
  • Betsoft (Malta)
  • BGaming (Malta)
  • Makitone Gaming (Estonia)
  • Qora Games (T&C’s indicate UK/Wales)
  • Rival Powered (UK)
  • Reevo (Romania)
  • Visionary iGaming (Costa Rica)
  • Woohoo Games (UK)

Illegal Online Gambling Site Bovada Knows Its Status

This is hardly the first batch of strongly worded letters about illegal online gambling site Bovada.

Legal gambling operators, lawmakers, and state gaming regulators have long been frustrated with illegal crypto casinos and criminal offshore sportsbooks. Usually, the strongly worded letters from federal and state legislators, as well as gaming regulators, head to the US Department of Justice (DoJ).

Last year, Colorado, Illinois, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, New Jersey, and Nevada regulators sent DoJ a message asking it “to make combating illegal, offshore sportsbooks and online casinos a priority.”

Also, in 2023, state lawmakers added language to iGaming bills telling operators to stop any illegal activity or risk losing their licenses.

In 2022, members of Congress mailed the DoJ a letter endorsed by the gambling trade group American Gaming Association (AGA) that asked US Attorney General Merrick Garland to crack down on sites like Bovada, MyBookie, and BetOnline.

All three sites continue to operate and to serve US customers illegally.

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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