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UConn Huskies center Donovan Clingan (32) blocks the shot of Seton Hall Pirates center Jaden Bediako (15), as we examine Connecticut banning Bovada.
UConn Huskies center Donovan Clingan (32) blocks the shot of Seton Hall Pirates center Jaden Bediako (15) in the first half at Harry A. Gampel Pavilion in Storrs, Conn. on March 3, 2024. Photo by David Butler II / USA TODAY Sports via Imagn.

Just three weeks after the Michigan Gaming Control Board sent a cease and desist order to Bovada, an illegal offshore sports betting provider, Connecticut regulators are about to do the same.

According to a report, the Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection Gaming Division is poised to become the second state in just a few weeks to reject the illegal operator as a way of protecting the best sports betting sites in the legal market.

Connecticut sports betting regulators have prepared a cease and desist letter to the Curacao-based, Harp Media-owned offshore sportsbook this week, according to representatives for the Department.

Such an action should help drive customers to legal Connecticut sports betting apps, which are a safer alternative for bettors and help drive tax revenue from Connecticut sports betting activity into the state government budget.

While Connecticut and Michigan are taking action now, we've seen such regulations in place for years in five other states.

In 2012, Bovada left the Maryland sports betting market, and it did the same with Nevada sports bettingNew Jersey sports betting, and Delaware sports betting in 2014. It pulled out of the New York sports betting market in 2021.

Why Connecticut is banning Bovada

The issue of offshore sportsbooks operating on American soil is not a new one. Earlier this month, the Campaign for Fairer Gambling (CFG) released a report that $9.5 billion in illegal wagers were accepted last year in the New York, New Jersey, and Minnesota sports betting markets alone.

Bovada, the most popular offshore sportsbook and online casino operating in America, has been on regulators’ radar for over a decade. The best sports betting apps in the legal market are subject to licensing fees, taxation, and rules set out by participating states. Bovada and other offshore operators are not.

Not only do those illegal sportsbooks siphon millions in tax revenue for legal states, but the lack of oversight allows Bovada to present more competitive bonus offers to customers because of its lower operating costs. That presents a major issue for sportsbooks trying to entice customers away from illegal operators with Connecticut sportsbook promos.

Back in 2022, Bill Miller, President and CEO of the American Gaming Association, singled out Bovada in a letter to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland.

“These illegal sites also enjoy many competitive advantages that allow them to offer better odds and promotions and ignore any commitment to responsible gaming," he said in the latter, "because they do not pay state and federal taxes or have comparable regulatory compliance costs and obligations."

The Connecticut legal sports betting market is not a big one. There is no way to tell how much betting activity that Bovada has had in the state, which only has three three licensed providers: FanDuel, DraftKings, and Fanatics, which joined the fray in December.

Together, they generated $156.8 million in bets in April and remain a lower-tier sports betting jurisdiction in terms of handle. FanDuel and DraftKings understandably dominate the market.

What’s next for Bovada?

Harp Media, owner of Bovada, will receive the cease and desist order this week, effectively shutting down the offshore operator in two U.S. states in the last two-plus weeks.

The loss of business for Bovada in the relatively small Connecticut market may not hit the company in the pocketbook that hard, but the increased exposure of its illegal operations on American soil is not good for business.

Bovada remains widely available in 44 states across America despite technically being an illegal offshore sportsbook. The risk for Bovada is that other states, at the urging of the AGA, will continue to go after the illegal operator and shut down its business altogether on American soil.