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Bovada: what is it, is it legal, and can you use it for sports betting and online poker?

bovada
(Image credit: Bovada)

If you’ve been looking for a way to place sports bets or play poker online, you’ve probably come across Bovada. This gambling site promises US players a sportsbook and online casino, even though online gambling is fraught with federal and state legal regulations.

So, is Bovada the real deal? In this guide, we’ll take a closer look at what Bovada offers and whether or not it’s legal for online gambling in the US.

What is Bovada?

Bovada is a Costa Rica-based online sportsbook and casino established in 2011. The platform offers betting on most major US sports leagues and horse racing. It has slots, table games, blackjack, and a variety of other casino games. Plus, Bovada offers live online poker tournaments with players from around the world.

With all of the laws around online sports betting and poker in the US, a platform like Bovada seems immediately suspicious. But, the short answer is that for most US players, it would appear that Bovada is a completely legal option for placing sports wagers and gambling online.

The key is that since Bovada is based in Costa Rica, it’s not subject to US laws around sports betting and gambling. Unlike almost any US-based casino, Bovada doesn’t require a state license to operate.

Importantly, federal and most state laws around gambling put restrictions on casinos rather than players. So all the evidence suggests that you won’t get in any legal trouble by placing bets with a casino like Bovada that’s not under the typical restrictions that US casinos face.

But, there is an important exception to this. Some states have passed laws that restrict online gambling regardless of where the host casino or sportsbook is based. For that reason, Bovada won’t accept players from New Jersey, New York, Delaware, Maryland, or Nevada. New Jersey and Nevada recently legalized online sports betting, so you have plenty of other options for sportsbooks in those states - take FanDuel and DraftKings as the obvious examples.

bovada sportsbook

(Image credit: Bovada)

Bovada Sportsbook

Bovada’s sportsbook is the number one attraction to this platform. Up until last year, it was one of the only legal ways for US residents to place online sports bets — in many states, it’s still the only option.

The range of sports you can bet on with Bovada is pretty wide. All of the major US leagues are available for betting, including the NFL, NBA, NHL, MLB, and PGA. In addition, Bovada allows wagers on eSports, Olympic events, soccer, cricket, boxing, cycling, and many more competitions.

Bovada has a variety of prop bets available for most contests, although the selection isn’t as wide as what you’ll find with many US-based online sportsbooks. The platform also supports live bets on ongoing matches, so there’s never a shortage of action.

Bovada Racebook

Bovada’s online horse betting arm covers around 22 racetracks across the US, UK, and Ireland. You can place win, place, and show bets, exacta bets, and trifecta bets. In general, betting opens on the morning of the race event, but Bovada typically displays odds a few weeks ahead of time.

Bovada Casino

Bovada’s online casino is vast. The platform has around 250 games in all, spanning blackjack, virtual slot machines, table games like roulette and craps, keno, bingo, and more.

Interestingly, you can also get the experience of a live casino with Bovada’s live dealer games. These connect you via video to a live, human casino dealer for games of blackjack, roulette, baccarat, and Super 6. There’s a chat room so you can communicate with the dealer and other players, and even the option to tip the dealer like you would at an in-person casino.

(Image credit: Bovada)

Bovada Poker

Bovada is part of the massive Pai Wong Luo poker network, which operates in the US, Canada, China, and around a dozen other countries around the world. That means that there are almost always games available to join and many large tournaments with cash prizes.

In addition, Bovada offers a relatively wide variety of online poker styles. There are fixed limit, pot limit, and no-limit tournaments, as well as Texas Hold’em, Omaha, and Omaha Hi-Lo games. Betting minimums start at 25 cents for entry-level tournaments.

Another nice option that Bovada offers for online poker players is anonymous tournaments. Your name isn’t revealed to other players in these games, which helps keep you safe online and prevents long-term tracking by frequent poker players. 

Bovada’s poker software needs to be downloaded to your computer (Mac or Windows). Alternatively, the platform offers a mobile poker app for iOS and Android devices.

Bovada: final verdict

Bovada is an online sportsbook, casino, and poker platform that appears to be legal for the vast majority of players in the US.

You can bet on US and international sports without worrying about legal ramifications. Bovada’s online casino is filled with games, including live dealer games that put you right in the middle of the casino environment. Or, you can use Bovada’s poker network to play in live tournaments against players from around the world and win cash prizes.

Gambling responsibly

You probably don't need us to tell you that any form of gambling comes with serious risks and should never be undertaken as a silver bullet to solve your financial troubles. It's worth remembering the phrase...the house always wins!

If you suffer from a gambing problem or suspect somebody you know does, then we strongly suggest that you give the National Problem Gambling Hotline a call on 1-800-522-4700 to discuss it with a professional. It’s so important to make gambling safer for yourself and loved ones.