How the West Flagler Matter and Michigan Attempt to Ban Bovada Intertwine

Written by:
Gilbert Horowitz
Published on:
Jun/13/2024

Entering June we reported on how the popular online sportsbook Bovada was sent a cease and desist letter by Michigan regulators demanding they stop taking bets from residents of that state.  Bovada also owns an online casino, Ignition, which takes bets from those in Michigan.

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Bovada is licensed in the Caribbean nation of Curacao.  Its stance is that, because Curacao allows for online gambling, Bovada can take bets from anywhere in the world that allows the activity as well.  This includes Michigan and anywhere else in the United States as there are no federal laws prohibiting online gambling. 

Bovada prohibits bets from the U.S. states of Maryland and New York based on a prior settlement agreement.  The site does not take bets from Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware residents either. 

Bovada was given 15 days to exit the Michigan market.  It had yet to budge with the deadline being this week.  The letter was sent out prior to May 31.

Meanwhile, the parent company of Miami's Magic City Casino, West Flagler, is attempting to stop the Seminoles from offering mobile betting in Florida.

The Seminoles claim all bets take place on their servers based on the reservation.  The Florida Supreme Court has rejected a challenge to the state's agreement with the Seminole Tribe of Florida allowing them to operate sports betting through computers and smartphones.

Ironically, Bovada can lean on this ruling.  The United States vs. World Sports Exchange previously ruled in 2000 that bets through servers in Antigua were actually taking place on U.S. soil where the customer was located, not in Antigua.  The Florida ruling changed that position and now serves as precedent.

Bovada, while licensed in Curacao, is based in the Kahnawake Mohawk Territory just outside of Montreal, Canada, which might make for an interesting legal battle should Michigan regulators truly opt to go that route, and assuming Bovada decides to continue taking bets from the Great Lakes State.

As for West Flagler,  The U.S. Supreme Court scheduled a conference Thursday to decide whether it will formally review the matter or take a pass. Stay tuned.

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