Legal Notices Force Bovada Out of Michigan and Colorado

Bovada, an unlicensed online sportsbook and casino, has closed its doors in Colorado and Michigan. This move is in response to legal letters that its parent company, Harp Media B.V., received from the state gambling authorities in these jurisdictions ordering it to cease operations.

Harp Media B.V. received cease-and-desist orders from the gambling authorities in both states, which led Bovada to impose access restrictions in seven US jurisdictions. Given that Connecticut’s Department of Consumer Protection just issued a notification akin to this one, the state may be next.

On May 29, the Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB) gave out a notice granting Harp Media B.V. 14 days to prohibit gaming on their websites for residents of Michigan. If you don’t comply, you could get sued. The Willemstad, Curaçao-based Harp Media B.V. is being accused of breaking many gaming laws in Michigan. The laws are as follows,

  • 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 gambling operations without a license issued by the MGCB. Parties operating unlicensed gambling operations in the state may face imprisonment for up to 10 years or a fine of 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

Similarly, Colorado is now listed as a restricted state on Bovada’s website. Bovada’s site states that customers in restricted states can only withdraw their remaining funds as cryptocurrency.

Connecticut Takes Action

The Connecticut Department of Consumer Protections also sent a cease-and-desist letter to Bovada on June 14. The letter requires Bovada to “immediately cease and desist offering its games and services to Connecticut customers” to avoid potential civil and criminal penalties.

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Kristofer Gilman, Director of Gaming in Connecticut, wrote in the notice that Harp Media B.V. is violating Connecticut General Statutes 53-278b, 53-278d, and the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act (CUTPA). Gilman emphasized that “Bovada’s promotion of unlicensed and illegal gambling services is also an unfair trade practice, which violates CUTPA.”

Bovada’s exit from these states reflects increased regulatory scrutiny on unlicensed gaming operators. As more states tighten their gaming laws, unregulated operators like Bovada may face similar actions nationwide.

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