All Bets Are Off In New York For Offshore Sportsbook Bovada

Written By Derek Helling on May 28, 2021
Offshore Sportsbook Exits New York

The regulated market for New York online sports betting hasn’t launched yet but it’s already producing results. The Bovada offshore sportsbook has announced that it will soon stop accepting wagers from people located in the Empire State.

For NY bettors, this adds to the anticipation of legal online sports betting channels due to appear in the state in the coming months. As such, Bovada’s reason behind the selective carveout of only NY among all U.S. markets is caution.

Why is Bovada offshore sportsbook “leaving” NY?

In simple terms, it seems the company fears prosecution. A source close to the sportsbook’s operations said that Bovada fears state prosecutors in NY more than those in any other jurisdiction. To be clear, Bovada’s operations in New York have been illegal for decades.

However, with the recent enactment of an online sports betting framework in New York with the state looking toward the activity as a source of tax revenue, there is a new motivation for NY law enforcement to devote resources toward the matter. The state has a recent history of going after gambling operations it considers illegal.

In 2011, the state brought criminal cases against some of the biggest online poker operators in the country. Such games were and remain illegal in the state. To avoid such potential consequences, Bovada has informed its customers in NY that it will no longer accept wagers from them after June 21. The email concerned stated:

“The newly introduced regulation and its increased restrictions on our players residing in NY has ultimately led to this difficult decision.”

After June 21, there will be one fewer illegal online sportsbook taking bets in NY. That doesn’t mean that legal sports betting apps in NY will be available the same day to take its place. The most optimistic appraisal of their arrival is still early next year.

What can NY bettors do in the meantime, and is there any chance that Bovada might return in the future? There are legal options available to New Yorkers and it’s not entirely out of the realm of possibility.

Bovada customers have legal betting options

Until regulated online sportsbooks go live in NY, New Yorkers have options for legal wagering on sporting events. Those are:

  • Crossing the state line into New Jersey or Pennsylvania to bet with legal apps there
  • Retail sportsbooks at the four up-state commercial casinos in NY

Legal sportsbooks are also coming to neighboring Connecticut, with a possible launch of this fall at least on the brick-and-mortar side. Could Bovada return to NY without the worries of prosecution, as a licensed operator?

Perhaps, but it isn’t likely. Given Bovada’s long history of operating illegally in the state, regulators might be resistant to approve the company for participation in the regulated market without mandating some kind of penance. That’s what fellow offshore sportsbook 5Dimes is looking at in terms of going legitimate.

That price might be more than Bovada is willing to pay, if it is interested. Unless it contracts with a platform provider in the future, New Yorkers can soon do nada with Bovada.

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Derek Helling

Derek Helling is a lead writer for PlayUSA and the manager of BetHer. He is a 2013 graduate of the University of Iowa and covers the intersections of sports with business and the law.

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