Michigan Gives Bovada Final Warning to Shut Down Online Casino


  • Michigan has issued cease-and-desist letter to Bovada
  • Bovada now has 14 days to shut down their platform in the state
  • More states cracking down on gray market operators

Michigan is making a stand against illegal offshore online casinos.

The Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB) issued a cease-and-desist letter to Harp Media, which operates one of the popular Bovada offshore casinos in the US market. The move represents a major step forward in the battle to clean up the “gray market” of unregulated online platforms.

“Following an investigation into the matter, the MGCB sent a cease-and-desist letter to Harp Media B.V., which operates Bovada, on May 29,” A statement from the MGCB reads. “Harp Media B.V. has 14 days from receipt of the letter to take steps to prevent Michigan residents from gambling on their websites or MGCB will take legal action.”

The MGCB’s decision to issue to the cease-and-desist letter was an effort to protect their growing regulated gambling market. Off short casinos such as Bovada not only take revenue away from the state, but also operate without any regulation. That means they have no responsibility to keep odds fair, pay out all bets, or monitor for problem gambling.

The letter means that the operator will have to shut down their platform in the Wolverine State or face a lawsuit.

Bovada Has Thrived in Gray Market

Bovada has had a strong presence in the US even before online gambling became legal. Since Harp Media is based outside the US, many states chose to allow them to operate in what has been called a “gray market”. Those offshore operators are able to offer their platform, but their customers are playing at their own risk.

That means the state will not step in to help residents with any issues they run into with a gray market operator, unlike they would with regulated Michigan online casinos.

The attitude towards the gray market has shifted dramatically since online gambling became legal. States now have a strong reason to want platforms like Bovada out and have created laws to force them out. That is the case in Michigan, where Bovada is committing a major violation by operating in the state.

Gray Markey May Never Go Away

While states like Michigan are threatening sites like Bovada with legal action, there is only so much that can be done. Legal operators in the US have warned that creating too many regulations or increasing tax rates could lead to bettors opting for offshore platforms. While using those platforms can be a risk, the lack of tax and bet limits makes it worth the risk for some players.

Sports betting is also an area where a strong gray market continues to exist. While most states now offer some form of legal sports betting, states with monopolies or weak markets have seen an uptick in users choosing to use sites like Bovada.