After the passing of UIGEA in the United States in 2006, may online gambling companies were left scrambling within that region. What happened next took many paths. Some companies left the U.S. market entirely, forgoing a large percentage of their revenues in order to stay clean in the eyes of the law. Other companies chose to stay in the market, and in 2011 those companies were shut down by the Department of Justice, with hundreds of millions of player deposits seized as a result.
One company that pivoted in 2011 was Bovada. Born of the same branding as the legendary Bodog, this company is still in existence using many of the same products and design elements of its predecessor. However, it is no longer owned by Calvin Ayre. Let’s look at Bovada in a little more detail.
As we mentioned, Bovada launched in 2011 in the wake of the Black Friday events. The site is owned by the Morris Mohawk Gaming Group based on the Kahnawake Reservation just outside of Montreal. This is also where the company has their gaming license, although to be fair that license doesn’t hold much weight internationally.
Normally, when we write a review of a site, we have to list a bunch of countries that cannot play at the site. Bovada has made this easy on us – the only players that are allowed to play here from Americans. When you come to the homepage, if you are trying to access the site from an IP Address outside the country, you are given an error message and redirected to Bodog.eu. Clearly, there is a relationship between the two companies.
For many American players, Bovada is the best-known brand for sports gambling. IN fact, the company has done an excellent job to become the go-to location for many of the sports networks and podcasts to source gambling odds on American sports, which will inevitably lead to listeners and viewers using the site for gambling.
When you fist enters the Sports section of the website, you are greeted with a large banner detailing the Welcome Bonus. While this is fine and all, we would prefer the real estate (especially the prime positions) to have the latest odds and the featured games of the day. Instead, you need to click on one of the sports listed on the left-hand side of the screen (there are tons to choose from).
From there, making a bet is as simple as a couple of clicks. Depending on the type of bet you want to make, you simply select the lines you want to bet, and they are all added to your betting slip. From there you can perform parlays and teasers, and your bets will be confirmed on the next screen.
For an interface, we would have to say this is good, but not great. Having to go looking for most of the odds is a bit of a pain, and more importantly, the odds on the main Sports page are buried below many rows of banners.
Bovada has an excellent casino product for its players. The casino has games from three different software providers: Betsoft, Rival Gaming, and Real Time Gaming. These are three of only a handful of suppliers who will still allow their licensees to accept U.S. players, so Bovada has chosen to maximize its offering. There are some excellent slots games to be found, as well as an adequate stable of Table Games. Included in this stable is a series of Live Dealer games, which feature human dealers instead of the Random Number Generator used in the digital casino.
Bovada has a poker site which has been on a bit of a roller coaster itself in recent years. After growing it for several years, Bovada sold the poker site to a company called Ignition Poker but has recently added poker back to its offering. One can assume that there was a non-compete clause in the sale that had expired. Whatever the situation, Bovada players can once again seamless access tournaments and cash games from their central account.
Bovada is only open to American players, which means that the company has no reason to invest in a native gambling app at this time. Neither Apple nor Google have approved real money apps for download aside from the Daily Fantasy Sports apps. For the time being, if you are a player at Bovada and want to play games on your mobile device, then you will need to use the browser on your phone or tablet. Don’t worry – Bovada is keenly aware of the popularity of mobile gaming, so the site has been configured for easy use from these devices. You will see all the casino and sports betting options available as well as a way to access the poker client. The games we tested were robust and didn’t seem to show any obvious differences from their desktop versions.
Bodog used to be known for its lavish, aspirational promotions across all its platforms. Unfortunately, this was all the mastermind of its former owner, and without him, the site seems to have reverted back to standard offers for both Sports and Casino.
The offer presented to new depositing players is an intriguing one – a 50% bonus to a maximum of $250 bonus dollars. This isn’t as large as some of the sites we have seen before, but offering you only 50% means that the rollover amounts needed to convert the full amount of bonus could be quite low. In this case, it is entirely the opposite. The wagering requirement for Sports and Horses is 5x the sum of the deposit and bonus, and for the casino, it is 30x. These numbers are a bit higher than the industry average which means it is going to be that much more difficult to realize the full potential of the Welcome Offer.
The rest of the promotions for sports bettors comes in the form of the Rewards program. Here, you earn points based on the amount you are betting and the type of wager, and when you reach certain point levels, you can redeem your points for cash into your account. There are three levels of the program and 6 different tiers, so you are receiving some sort of reward no matter if you are a new player or have been there for years. The more you play, the higher percentage of cash back you can earn, and the better rate
you get for redeeming your points. Many players overlook the Rewards programs at sites, but these extra few dollars can be the difference between being a winning or losing player.
Another tough is for Bovada is payment processing. With only American clients, the options are limited to companies the site can do business with. They have been focused on Bitcoin as a preferred payment method for years now, offering the best bonuses to those who are willing to use the volatile cryptocurrency. If you don’t use Bitcoin, then you are limited to credit cards (if your bank doesn’t block them) or wire transfers to get your money to the site.
When you click on the Help button, you will be taken initially to the Frequently Asked Questions section of the site. Bovada has done an excellent job of organizing these questions by category, which should help you find answers to common queries without much issue. Some of you will want to just speak with a representative, in which you can click on the Live Chat link at the top of the screen. A chat window will open, and you should be speaking to an agent in a matter of seconds. If you want to take it a step further, you can call the toll-free number listed on the website.
Bovada continues to try to walk in the footsteps of its predecessor, but that is becoming increasingly difficult as the U.S. government continues to make it more challenging to operate in that market. It is hard to say where Bovada will fit into a regulated market in the U.S., or if the company will just sell everything back to Bodog. One thing is for certain – there are a ton of players who love the brand and the exposure it gets from the Sports community is having a positive impact on the company. We consider Bovada to be one of the prime options for sports bettors in the U.S. market, as we can recommend the company without question.