For a long time, many online casinos, poker rooms and sports books have operated in the realm of “gray” legality. They are not necessarily against the law, but many states (and countries, for that matter) are not rushing to lock people out of the sites or prosecute the principals. That will be changing in the state of New York, at least regarding Bovada, one of the major online gaming sites in the industry today.
Passage of New Gaming Regulations Calls for Lockout
When the New York budget for fiscal year 2022 was under debate, it included regulations for an expansion of gaming in the state. Online betting was specifically a major part of that gaming change and, once the bill was signed by Governor Andrew Cuomo, online sports betting became a reality. With that change, however, many “gray” market operators were put on notice.
As a part of the legislation, the new legislation would make it illegal for offshore operators to accept bets from New York residents. With this in mind, Bovada became the first offshore operator to announce that they would withdraw from the state and no longer allow IP addresses from the Empire State to access Bovada’s website. Beginning on June 21, Bovada will withdraw from the New York marketplace.
Currently Bovada’s position is that New York patrons can continue to place bets on the site. They do note that bonuses, poker tournament tickets and any remaining funds would have to be used or withdrawn by the 21st, otherwise they would be forfeited. New York authorities have not responded to this move by Bovada.
Site Blockage Normal After New Legislation Passes
The move by Bovada essentially heads off a move by the state of New York from blocking access to the site. It is something that many online gaming sites and poker rooms have done – and many states and nations have done – in the ongoing question of online casino gaming, poker and sports betting.
Arguably the biggest occurrences have been when online gaming companies shut their doors to entire countries. After the Australian government passed online gaming restrictions in 2016, nearly every legitimate online gaming site either withdrew from the country or was blocked by the country from offering their wares to Australians. This was arguably the biggest withdrawal/blockage since the 2006 Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act (UIGEA) forced major players like PartyPoker, 888Poker and other operators to withdraw from the States of America and the 2011 departure of PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker and CEREUS (Absolute Poker and UB.com) after the U. S. Department of Justice seized their sites in the “Black Friday” scandal.
Individual states have also acted against offshore operations. When it passed a draconian ban on internet gaming in 2007, Washington state became the first state to make playing on an offshore site a felony offense (the law has never been enforced but has withstood challenges). Two other states, Hawaii and Utah, have bans regarding online gaming, while other states that have fully functioning online casino gaming, sports betting and poker operations, such as New Jersey, Nevada and Tennessee, have made it illegal to play on “unlicensed” (re: offshore) sites.
What effect this will have on the Bovada operation is unknown. They are now more known for their offshore sports betting operations, but they still do offer online casino and poker action to their customers. Currently, Bovada does not appear on PokerScout.com’s listing of sites, possibly because Bovada prevents sites like PokerScout from observing their operations and the number of people playing on their site.