Massachusetts Gaming Commission Discusses Bovada Cease & Desist Order

Written By TJ McBride on June 24, 2024
Bovada Cease & Desist Massachusetts Gaming

As other states begin making moves against unregulated offshore betting operator Bovada, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission is considering doing the same.

At a recent meeting, Massachusetts gaming commissioners discussed Michigan regulators sending a cease and desist letter to Bovada. Soon thereafter, Connecticut did the same. That movement against Bovada has motivated other states to do the same.

Massachusetts sports betting relies on regulated sportsbooks operating under the oversight of regulators to generate tax dollars with as little negative impact on bettors as possible. Offshore gambling websites like Bovada undermine that process because they are unregulated and pay no taxes to the community.

Massachusetts discusses potential Bovada cease & desist order

During the Massachusetts Gaming Commission meeting, it was Commissioner Nakisha Skinner who brought the issue forward.

Skinner said that she learned Connecticut has joined with Michigan in fighting back against offshore operators and wanted the commission to discuss doing the same. She said:

“There’s a lot of talk about the illegal gaming market [here], and discussion around the cease and desist letter than Michigan sort of spearheaded, now Connecticut, I learned this morning has signed on. Is it worthwhile to have a discussion among the commissioners whether there are any steps that we want to take along those lines, with the understanding that our hands are somewhat tied? But it’s worth the discussion we may want to send a cease and desist letter of our own.”

No official cease and desist letter has been sent out by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission, but Skinner’s desire for future discussion could lead to that end. She said:

“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.”

Massachusetts Gaming Commission Interim Chairman Jordan Maynard also noted during the meeting that its law department could have already begun looking into the process of sending a cease and desist letter:

“I imagine there’s work going on.”

Other states have also taken action against unregulated offshore operators like Bovada

The idea of sending these cease and desist letters gained momentum in early June during the North American Gaming Regulators Association conference in Charleston, South Carolina.

The first state to take action was Michigan, which sent a letter stating that Bovada had 14 days to end its operations in the state.

In the letter, Michigan Gaming Control Board Executive Director Henry Williams said this is a warning shot to all other overseas regulators.

“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. 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.”

Connecticut is expected to do the same within the next week or two, and Massachusetts could follow after.

Bovada has ignored Michigan so far and is still available in the state, but the company has removed itself in other states that have taken legal action. Currently, five states have taken legislative action to remove Bovada:

  • Delaware
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • Maryland
  • Nevada

The Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office sent cease and desist letters to 10 daily fantasy sports operators in February after discovering that the brands were violating Massachusetts gaming laws by offering parlay wagering in the form of pick ’em contests.

Given the state’s expediency in issuing such orders in the past, Bovada could very well find a letter in the mail sometime soon.

Photo by Dreamstime / PlayMA
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TJ McBride

T.J. McBride lives in Denver, Colorado and is best known for his work covering the Denver Nuggets for outlets such as FiveThirtyEight, ESPN, Bleacher Report, and other major outlets. After a decade covering the NBA, T.J. has now stepped into the gaming space and now reports and writes on gambling news across the nation.

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