High Noon Approaching For Illegal Gambling Site Bovada To Leave Michigan

Written By Dave Briggs on June 14, 2024
Two old west gunfighters square off in the street. Bovada is still operating in Michigan 16 days after it was sent a letter giving it 14 days to stop accepting bets from people in Michigan.

The clock is rapidly ticking toward High Noon when it comes to illegal online gambling site Bovada and its continued operations in Michigan. Meanwhile, the sheriff in this drama is strapping on a pair of six shooters and preparing to step onto the street.

On May 29, the Michigan Gaming Control Board sent the popular offshore operator, based in Curacao, a cease-and-desist letter. That letter gave Bovada 14 days to block anyone in Michigan from being able to access the site.

Today marks day 16 of the saga. Bovada is still accessible in Michigan (we checked), but there is a catch.

MGCB Public Information Officer Lisa Keith told PlayMichigan on Friday morning, that the 14-day period had not, yet, expired.

“Bovada (Harp Media B.V.) has 14 days from ‘receipt’ of the letter to respond,” Keith said via email. “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.”

Assuming the MGCB sent the letter via courier — not carrier pigeon, message in the bottle or even via Cpost International (the Curaçao postal service, reliability unknown) — PlayMichigan asked Keith when Bovada received the letter to determine when the 14 days is up.

We’re waiting to hear back on that one, but we will update this story if we do.

What happens if Bovada does not comply?

The expectation is Bovada will comply and block its site from being accessed in Michigan. After all, Bovada has complied with similar cease-and-desist letters and currently cannot be accessed in:

  • Delaware
  • Maryland
  • Nevada
  • New Jersey
  • New York

This week, Bonus reported the Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection will also soon send Bovada a cease-and-desist letter.

But, what happens if Bovada opts to ignore the MGCB’s cease-and-desist order?

Previously, Keith told PlayMichigan:

“In Michigan, strict laws and rules govern Internet gaming and sports betting and provide consumer protections, promote confidence, and ensure fair and honest gaming. We certainly hope that Bovada complies with our letter and voluntarily withdraws from the state of Michigan.

“If Bovada continues to offer illegal gambling to individuals located in Michigan, we are prepared to take further legal action, the details of which we have no comment on at this time.

“Bovada’s U.S. suppliers may also face consequences. Certainly, any business relationship with an illegal operator will very likely prevent a company from being licensed to do business in the very large Michigan gaming market.

“With this letter, we have made a clear statement that Bovada is violating Michigan laws.

“The agency remains committed to combating illegal gambling as part of its mission ‘…to ensure the conduct of fair and honest gaming to protect the interests of the citizens of the State of Michigan.'”

Meanwhile, 2,500 miles from paradise, we wait for the other legal shoe to drop

stock photo of a beach in Curacao

We are curious what legal options the MGCB has against a company based 2,500 miles away in the self-governing Carribean nation of Curacao (above), an island that falls under the monarchy of The Netherlands.

Perhaps we will soon find out.

In the meantime, no one should question the MGCB’s intentions to try to eradicate illegal gambling.

Cracking down on the threats posed by illegal gambling both in Michigan and abroad has long been a priority for the state’s gambling regulator.

In 2023, the MGCB sent letters to 64 businesses around. The regulator demanded they cease all illegal activity immediately. This ultimately led to the removal of 167 illegal gambling machines from circulation and the seizure of 79.

In the last year alone, nine individuals received criminal gambling convictions and 24 were arraigned on illegal gambling charges.

Photo by Shutterstock
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Dave Briggs

Dave Briggs is a managing editor and writer for Catena Media. His expertise is covering the gambling industry in Michigan with an emphasis on online casino, online sports betting and horse racing sectors. He is currently reporting on the gambling industries in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Canada.

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