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Massachusetts Gaming Regulators to Evaluate Bovada’s Operations

Robert Linnehan

by Robert Linnehan in Sports Betting News

Updated Jun 12, 2024 · 10:45 AM PDT

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  • A Massachusetts Gaming Commission member requested an evaluation of Bovada’s operation in the state
  • Commissioner Nakisha Skinner requested a future meeting discuss the potential of sending a cease-and-desist letter to the offshore regulator
  • Connecticut gaming regulators most recently divulged the state would be sending a cease-and-desist letter to the operator within the next week

Massachusetts may be the next state to evaluate taking action against Bovada.

During today’s Massachusetts Gaming Commission agenda setting meeting, a commissioner requested the regulatory body discuss potentially sending a cease-and-desist letter to the illegal offshore online sportsbook and casino at a future meeting.

“I wonder if it’s worthwhile to have a discussion among the commissioners as to whether there are any steps we may want to take,” Massachusetts Gaming Commissioner Nakisha Skinner said.

Following in Michigan, Connecticut’s Footsteps

Skinner pointed to the Michigan Gaming Control Board’s recent decision to send a cease-and-desist letter to Bovada on May 29, and more recently, Connecticut regulators revealing the state will be sending its own cease-and-desist notice to Bovada within the next week.

She proposed a discussion on a cease-and-desist letter of their own during a future agenda meeting and inviting the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office to give an update to the commission on any work or research that’s been completed on the matter.

“Are there any steps we may want to take as a commission? Just with the understanding that our hands are somewhat tied, but I think it’s worth the discussion of maybe sending a cease-and-desist letter of our own. I know there are some jurisdictions that are holding their vendors accountable, making an inquiry as to whether they’re doing business with these illegal markets,” she said.

MGC Interim Chair Jordan Maynard agreed and directed MGC General Counsel Todd Grossman to be ready to provide an update on any work that’s being done on this issue.

This decision came just one day after a representative for Connecticut’s Department of Consumer Protection Gaming Division confirmed it will be sending its own cease-and-desist letter to Bovada.

“The Department of Consumer Protection Gaming Division does send out cease and desist letters anytime we receive a consumer complaint or become aware of an illegal gaming operator,” the representative confirmed with Sports Betting Dime.

The notice will likely be sent to Harp Media B.V., which operates the the offshore and unlicensed online sportsbook. Harp Media B.V. is located in Curaçao.

Awaiting Bovada’s Michigan Decision

All of this comes two weeks after the Michigan Gaming Control Board sent a cease-and-desist notice to Bovada on May 29.

The gaming control board gave Harp Media B.V. 14-days from the receipt of the letter to prevent Michigan residents from gambling on their websites, or the MGCB will take legal action against the company.

The board has yet to hear back from Harp Media B.V.

The gaming control board claims Harp Media B.V. is in violation of several Michigan gaming laws:

  • Lawful Internet Gaming Act: States internet gaming may only be offered by a licensed internet gaming operator
  • Michigan Gaming Control and Revenue Act: Prohibits a party from conducting a gambling operations without a licensed issued by the MGCB. Parties operating unlicensed gambling operations in the state may face imprisonment for up to 10 years or a fine up to $100,000 or both
  • Michigan Penal Code: Broadly prohibits any form of gambling, which generally involves the elements of consideration, prize, and chance. Such as, accepting money, or anything of value, with the understanding that money, or anything of value, will be paid to any person based on the outcome of an uncertain event is prohibited

The offshore, unlicensed sportsbook and online casino Bovada is widely available throughout the country, but has banned customers from Delaware, New Jersey, New York, Maryland and Nevada in recent years after the states passed legislation to curb their operation.

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