MGCB Slaps Offshore Operator Bovada With Cease And Desist, Threatens Lawsuit

Written By Matthew Lomon on May 30, 2024
Cease and Desist letter being handed out. The Michigan regulator has sent a cease-and-desist letter to illegal operator Bovada, gives it 14 days to block access from Michiganders.

In April, the Michigan Gaming Control Board warned offshore operators of its zero-tolerance policy towards illegal gambling. Now, six weeks later, Michigan’s gambling authority has followed through with a cease-and-desist letter to illegal operator Bovada.

On May 29, the MGCB issued a cease-and-desist letter to Harp Media B.V. following an investigation that revealed two of the Curacao-based outfit’s illicit wagering sites, and, were accessible to Michigan residents.

As a result, the unlawful bookmaker has 14 days from receipt of the letter to prevent Michiganders from gambling on their websites. Otherwise, the MGCB says it will pursue legal action.

“The proliferation of online gaming platforms has led to increased scrutiny from regulatory bodies worldwide, and this action serves as a stern warning to overseas companies that flouting local regulations will not be tolerated,” MGCB Executive Director Henry Williams said in a press release.

MGCB takes first action since impassioned conference appearance

Harp Media is the first unsanctioned overseas gambling operator to receive a formal reprimand from the MGCB after its appearance at the International Masters of Gaming Law 2024 Spring Conference on Apr. 17.

But as Williams remarked, it won’t be the last.

“The MGCB remains steadfast in its commitment to upholding Michigan’s laws and regulations and will continue to actively monitor and enforce compliance within the state to ensure a fair and secure gaming environment for all.”

Harp Media now serves as an example of what other illegal operators can expect when entering Michigan unlawfully. As it stands, the Caribbean company is in violation of three Michigan gaming laws:

Thwarting internal threats also top priority for MGCB

Sometimes, it’s easier to focus on what’s happening over the fence rather than the mess in your own backyard. That, however, is in no way an issue for the MGCB.

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

In 2023, the MGCB sent letters to 64 businesses around The Wolverine State demanding 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.

Through an unwavering commitment to the safety of its players, the MGCB has cemented its status amongst the worldwide wagering industry’s top regional authorities.

Photo by Shutterstock
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Matthew Lomon

Matthew Lomon has been a contributor at Catena Media’s network of regional sites since July 2022. He first broke into covering the legal North American gambling industry with PlayCanada. Since then, Matthew's reporting has extended to PlayMichigan, PlayPennsylvania, and PlayIllinois. Based out of Toronto, Ontario, Matthew is an avid (bordering on fanatic) sports fan.

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