Multiple States Now In Process Of Pressuring Offshore Gambling Operator Bovada To Exit

Erik Gibbs

cards dice computer lock

Bovada, one of the earliest offshore online betting platforms to appear in the U.S., is losing ground. Several states are stepping forward to force it to halt serving their residents.  

Connecticut is the latest to indicate it is ready, according to reports, to push out Bovada. The Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection is set to issue a formal cease-and-desist letter to the operator.

This move by Connecticut authorities follows a similar action taken by Michigan. The Michigan Gaming Control Board sent a cease-and-desist order to Bovada two weeks ago, citing the need to protect consumers and ensure fair play within the state’s legal framework.

The situation in Connecticut mirrors these concerns, as state officials aim to uphold the integrity of their gambling regulations.

Massachusetts could follow suit

Amidst these developments, Massachusetts appears to be contemplating a similar course of action. During an Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) planning meeting on Wednesday, Commissioner Nakisha Skinner brought up the issue of unauthorized online gambling as a topic for the commission to deliberate in future sessions.

“We may want to send a cease-and-desist letter of our own,” Skinner said during the meeting.

Skinner emphasized the commission’s role in addressing these challenges but also acknowledged the limitations of their authority. She pointed out that while the MGC can discuss and propose measures to tackle unauthorized gambling, any substantive action would require support from other government departments.

The potential alignment of Massachusetts with Connecticut and Michigan in taking action against Bovada signifies a concerted effort among states to regulate the online gambling industry more stringently. As this happens, the message to online gambling platforms is clear: compliance with state laws is not optional, and failure to adhere will result in decisive action.

What isn’t clear, however, is how much it will hurt Bovada. As a Curaçao-licensed operator, it doesn’t have to report its financial health or user statistics.

Pressure mounting from all sides

Legal U.S. gaming operators have been actively lobbying for the Department of Justice (DOJ) to intensify its efforts against offshore gambling activities. This April, Michigan joined the ranks of states backing this initiative. The push for a crackdown comes amidst growing concerns over the proliferation of unregulated gambling websites like Bovada. According to the American Gaming Association (AGA), these are responsible for over $500 billion being gambled illegally each year.

The implications of these unregulated operations are far-reaching. They pose a risk to consumer protection due to the lack of regulatory oversight and also significantly impact state economies. The AGA’s report highlights a staggering potential loss of approximately $13 billion in tax revenue annually.

The lobbying efforts by online gaming operators are about curbing illegal activities and leveling the playing field. Legal and regulated operators are bound by strict rules and regulations, which include responsible gambling measures and tax obligations. In contrast, illegal sites bypass these requirements, offering them unfair advantages and undermining the integrity of the gaming industry.

Michigan’s stance on this issue is particularly noteworthy. The state has a robust framework for legal online gambling, which has been beneficial both for consumers and the state’s financial health. By advocating for a crackdown on illegal gambling, Michigan is taking steps to protect its interests and set a precedent for other states to follow.

The DOJ’s response has been immediate. The government agency has acknowledged that it’s taking an active role in working to eradicate offshore gambling sites. Bovada is likely just one of many that will receive cease-and-desist orders.