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New York Gaming Law SCARES Bovada, Ignition, et al Away

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As various states enact their own licensed online gaming legislation, offshore brands that have been serving these jurisdictions often find the climate becoming too hot for them to handle. This appears to be the case with Bovada and Cafe Casino, two partner organizations that have both elected to stop serving the State of New York in the wake of impending regulatory changes. Cafe Casino offers blackjack, roulette, slots, and other typical casino gaming options while Bovada hosts these same games and also boasts a sportsbook and poker room on the PaiWangLuo Network.

In addition, it's a virtual certainty that Ignition Casino and Slots.lv, which are all under the same umbrella group as Bovada and Cafe, will be revealing similar departures shortly.

Bovada, Cafe Casino, Ignition, Slots.lv Abandoning New York

What Prompted These Sites to Leave New York?

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We're not party to the deliberations made by online poker sites and casino providers. Nevertheless, we can hazard an educated guess as to why they have elected to abandon the lucrative NY market at this time.

On April 19, 2021, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the state's budget bill into law following months of negotiations and deal making with legislators. As part of the package, online sports betting was made legal in order to generate much-needed revenue for depleted New York government coffers. Sports betting at brick-and-mortar facilities run by casino license holders, such as what Tioga Downs offers, had already been possible since 2019. At that time, though, off-premises betting through mobile and online sites was not permitted to these terrestrial gambling interests.

Andrew CuomoNew York Governor Andrew Cuomo Signed the 2022 Budget Package, Including Online Sportsbook Licensure

Now that New York will host its own internet sportsbooks, offshore bookies will become the competitors of, and cut into the profits of, sports betting operators with a stamp of approval from Albany. Similar situations have arisen in other states with regulated online gaming, like New Jersey and Nevada, and these same jurisdictions have seen several international gambling companies cease doing business within their borders. They're afraid of legal pushback from officials who now have a financial interest in pursuing civil and criminal litigation against them.

Scared of Monsters Under the Bed?

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The on-paper legalization of online sportsbooks based in New York actually does very little to change the industry landscape at least in the short term.

Under the terms of the rules drafted by state leaders, the Request for Proposal stage is set to begin July 1. Then the state will have 150 days (five months) to choose which companies will be granted a license. Then the winning bidders will have to deploy their systems and test them prior to launch.

Optimists believe that New Yorkers will be able to place bets at licensed internet sportsbooks in time for the Superbowl in early 2022. However, any unforeseen delays in the process could push back the go-live date further.

Given that the new state-supervised interactive sports betting market will not appear for close to a year and possibly much longer than that, some feel that Bovada and Cafe Casino are being unduly cautious by fleeing the state at this time. Yet, New York does have a history of going after real money gaming sites, most famously in the Black Friday poker crackdown of 2011, so perhaps it is this track record that has caused execs at these two companies to act a little bit skittishly.

Cafe Casino Calls It Quits

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Cafe Casino was the first of the recent gaming organizations to wave the white flag in New York. On Monday, May 17, 2021, customers of this firm received an email similar to the following:

Cafe Casino NY Email

New Yorkers will still be able to play until June 16, but they will not earn any more rewards. Meanwhile, all existing points in the Cafe Casino Perks rewards program have been converted into a bonus with a 10x rollover. This is inline with the playthrough requirements that have been in effect for bonuses earned by exchanging points, so Cafe appears to honoring the accumulated rewards that NY users have collected.

Depositing is no longer possible for those from the state, and they are encouraged to withdraw their funds sooner rather than later. Affected New Yorkers will have to find other USA online casinos that are prepared to handle their action.

Given that the recent New York regulations pertain to sports betting rather than casino games, it's curious that Cafe Casino thought its operations were in jeopardy. This gaming site focuses on casino fun and doesn't even have a sportsbook.

Bovada Follows Shortly After

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Just three days after Cafe Casino did, Bovada.lv emailed its New York customers with a similar message:

Bovada.lv NY Email

New York bettors do have a few additional days to enjoy Bovada's products because the cutoff date beyond which they will not be able to use the services of the site is June 21 rather than June 16. Still, other details of the announcement are the same as with sister site Cafe: Bovada's New York clients will no longer be able to make deposits or earn rewards points, and their existing points have been converted to a bonus with standard wagering requirements.

There are additional aspects of this announcement that relate specifically to Bovada's role as a leading USA-friendly sportsbook. Wagers on events that will not settle until after June 21 will be voided. Bets on seasonal or yearly performance that are already underway will be settled “closer to the closure date,” which leaves Bovada considerable wiggle room for selectively judging the results of these bets in a way to benefit itself.

Bovada has earned a reputation for fair play and honest dealing, so we don't really expect them to do anything underhanded. We'll have to see how Bovada actually handles this situation before making any further comment on it.

Other Related Sites Planning to Withdraw From NY

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There are two other entities in the same group of companies as Cafe Casino and Bovada. They are the poker and casino site Ignition and the casino destination Slots.lv. They will also be leaving the Empire State although no official statements has been made about it, and the dates and timeframes involved remain in some doubt. We expect further clarification on these points within a week.

We're left wondering why Ignition Casino and Slots.lv would be threatened in any way by New York's online sportsbook regulation. But then again, this is also true regarding Cafe Casino, which has definitely decided upon leaving the state.

Other Poker Rooms Exist for NY Online Players

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Online poker fans in New York may be dismayed by this news, but there are many other options available, which you can read about in this guide to the best NY online poker sites. If you're keen to find a solution as similar to Bovada as possible, then check out the page we have prepared outlining excellent Bovada alternatives.

If you reside elsewhere in the United States, then you need have no fear about your Bovada, Ignition, Cafe Casino, or Slots.lv accounts being shut down at this time. Still, it can't hurt to have a backup poker room ready to go in case something else happens in the future. Pick from among the leading USA online poker offerings available today.

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