Michigan gives Bovada two weeks to close up shop for state residents

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The offshore market gets talked about a lot in the industry but on Thursday the state of Michigan decided to take action. The Michigan Gaming Control Board has sent offshore sportsbook Bovada a cease and desist warning the operator to stop accepting customers from the state.

MGCB giving Bovada 14 days before taking legal action

The letter gives the Costa Rica-based sportsbook 14 days to comply or warns the MGCB will take 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,” said MGCB Executive Director Henry Williams. “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.”

In the May 29 letter to Bovada parent company Harp Media B.V., the MGCB said the operator was in violation of the Lawful Internet Gaming Act, the Michigan Gaming Control and Revenue Act and the Michigan Penal Code.

In the past Bovada has pulled out of other states, including Nevada and New York, but it still serves most of the United States as an unregulated, offshore operator.

Michigan has pushed out numerous operators

The letter to Bovada is the latest in a long string of actions by Michigan limiting who can operate in the state. Last September, charitable sweepstakes casino Golden Hearts settled with Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel to leave the state.

Then, in November, one of the largest sweepstakes casino operators in the country, VGW, said it would be pulling out of the state as well.

In addition to sweepstakes operators, Michigan also cracked down on fantasy sports operators. In October 2023, the MGCB formally adopted fantasy regulations that limited the nature of what kind of contests can be offered, pushing PrizePicks and others out of the market.

Many calling on federal government to take action

Regulated operators have been asking regulators and lawmakers to crack down on the black markets in the post-PASPA era. American Gaming Association CEO Bill Miller has regularly called on local and national governments to take action.

Even major sports leagues have gotten involved. Last summer, the NFL penned a response to Rep. Dina Titus’s criticism of the league’s gambling policy asking her to focus on the black market.

It has been 13 years since Black Friday, the sweeping effort by the Department of Justice to shut down the three biggest online offshore poker operators servicing the U.S.