Bovada, the US-facing skin of Bodog, has quietly stopped accepting new player signups from the US states of Nevada and Delaware. The addition of the two states to Bovada’s exclusion list brings the total to five states that are no longer able to register to play on the largest US-facing offshore site, which offers a suite of sportsbetting and casino-game options in addition to poker.
Given Bovada’s previous withdrawal from New Jersey, the result is that residents of all three US states that have formally authorized online poker to date are no longer able to play on the largest remaining offshore sites. The Merge, Winning and upstart Equity poker networks had all previously exited from all three states, and Bovada itself had already stopped accepting new New Jersey signups as of the end of May.
Players attempting to sign up on Bovada from the blocked states are now greeted with this message: “We are sorry. We do not accept registrations from your state. For more information please contact us.”
Existing Bovada players in Nevada and Delaware, as in New Jersey, will be allowed to continue playing and to withdraw winnings, but will not be able to initiate new deposits.
Bovada also currently turns away new signups from the US states of New York and Maryland. Prosecutors in those two states have previously been involved in seizures of bank accounts connected to payment processing for offshore sites, including Bovada progenitor Bodog.
The impetus for the move appears to be the cease-and-desist notice that was sent by the office of the New Jersey attorney general to six prominent, US-based online poker affiliates who were displaying signup banners for Bovada, at least one of whom was also promoting signups for New Jersey-based sites already being approved and promoted within New Jersey. The notice, sent to the affiliates in late March, listed several of the alleged offending sites and networks and prompted their exodus from the Garden State, with a ripple effect clearly extending to Nevada and Delaware.
Bodog has also experienced its own previous legal problems in Nevada. Back in 2007, patentholder Scott Lewis and his Nevada-based 1st Technology Corp. filed a patent infringement lawsuit against Bodog. Bodog founder Calvin Ayre famously labeled Lewis as a “copyright troll” while refusing to directly answer the court summons, which resulted in Lewis receiving a summary (but uncollectable) judgment of $49 million.
What Lewis was able to do, temporarily, was seize the Bodog.com domain, which led to Bodog relocating its online home at sites such as newbodog.com and bodoglife.com. Eventually, Bodog and Ayre ditched the whole “.com” concept, and moved the company’s operations to online domains and suffixes not subject to US legal oversight.
The latest withdrawal shows that while Bodog and other offshore sites are willing to operate in a legal gray area, they have desire to continue competing in markets where fully authorized alternatives are available to consumers. As more US states look to authorize intrastate online poker, look for the list of blocked states for sites such as Bovada to continue to grow as well.
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