Offshore Sportsbook Bovada Complies With Regulators, Leaves Colorado

Written By Mike Breen on 06/25/2024
A man handing off a cease-and-desist letter

Colorado is among the latest states where access to unregulated offshore betting site Bovada has been restricted.

In its FAQ section, Bovada, which offers online sports betting and casino games, recently added Colorado and Michigan to the list of restricted states. On the other hand, the Colorado online sports betting market still offers a plethora of sportsbooks taxed and regulated by the state government.

In other words, Bovada isn’t accepting wagers from any residents of Colorado. Additionally, the site restricts and refuses action from Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Maryland, and Delaware residents. However, it still takes wagers from Americans in the remaining 43 states and Washington, D.C.

States with regulated sports betting markets have increasingly taken action to restrict Bovada, and more are expected to follow suit.

Gaming lobbyists want federal action against offshore betting sites

The American Gaming Association confirmed in a post on X that Bovada’s decision to remove Colorado from the states in which the site is unrestricted was the result of a cease-and-desist letter by the state government:

“Recent cease and desist letters against Bovada by Michigan and Colorado have ended operations by the illegal, offshore gambling site in both states.”

Harp Media B.V., a company based in the Dutch Caribbean island of Curaçao, operates Bovada.

As a result, states have limited legal recourse to stop residents from accessing the site in the U.S. The location shields them from most of the actions states could take.

Moreover, offshore operators often don’t adhere to state or federal regulations. For example, offshore sites facilitate betting on the upcoming presidential election, a market federal law prohibits and no legal U.S. operators offer.

In response, the AGA began calling on the U.S. Department of Justice to take action to combat domestic access to offshore sites like Bovada. AGA senior vice president of government relations, Chris Cylke, echoed that sentiment in a statement about the latest Colarado development:

“Successful enforcement actions against Bovada by Michigan and Colorado are proof that states have tools to fight back against offshore operators and should serve as blueprints for other states to follow. But states should not have to take on this battle alone — the DOJ must also use its powers to aid the fight against illegal gambling, which Congress has clearly identified as a department priority.”

More states primed to send cease-and-desist letters

Connecticut may be the next state to lose access to Bovada. The state’s Department of Consumer Protection sent Harp Media a letter on June 14 demanding Bovada “immediately cease and desist offering its games and services to Connecticut customers.”

Regulators in other regulated sports betting markets are leaning towards similar actions. Massachusetts regulators had preliminary discussions about sending its own cease-and-desist letter to Bovada at a meeting earlier this month.

Existing Colorado Bovada customers can withdraw funds as cryptocurrency

Bovada is blocking new users in Colorado from signing up for new accounts. Customers in the state who already have a Boavada account can withdraw their funds, though only using cryptocurrency. This likely has to do with existing bank regulations set up to keep offshore gambling operators from doing business in the U.S.

A message on the Bovada site states:

“Should you reside in a restricted state and still retain an account balance, please contact Customer Service for more information or to arrange a cryptocurrency withdrawal.”

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