Bovada Players Have Until September 30 To Transfer Their Accounts

Bovada Exits US Online Poker Market After Selling The Business To Ignition Casino

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In surprise news, Bovada has sold its online poker business to Ignition Casino, owned by Lynton Limited, and regulated by the Kahnawake Gaming Commission.

Bovada is one of the online poker sites that continues to accept US players even though it is not regulated in the US. It does not, however, accept new signups from the states where online poker has been regulated — New Jersey, Delaware and Nevada.

A message to players on the Bovada website explains that players must act to transfer their accounts by September 30, 2016, after which “poker at Bovada will no longer be available.”

To encourage players to take action, they will receive:

  • $10 Free Cash bonus
  • $1,100 Deposit Match Bonus
  • $100 Poker Deposit Drip Bonus
  • Freeroll ticket

The Bodog/Bovada player pool continues

The statement says that “Ignition Casino has acquired full ownership and proprietary rights of the Bovada poker business.”

The Ignition Casino poker page lists the same poker promotions as Bovada and its closely related site Bodog. Currently Bovada and Bodog share the same online poker player pool and it looks like this arrangement is set to continue.

The Bovada brand accepts US players, and will continue to do so under Ignition, whereas the Bodog brand is primarily used for Asian customers.

Cash game traffic numbers from PokerScout list Bodog—including Bovada players—as the third most popular poker room in the world. The seven day moving average of 1,400 occupied seats is substantially higher than the 1,150 of partypoker which is ranked in fourth place.

[geoip2 region=NJarea][i15-table tableid=29874][/geoip2]

What’s behind the sale?

Bodog cash game traffic has fallen since late December, something to be expected given the seasonality of online poker, but the traffic trend for the poker room over the last six years has been relentlessly positive  according to figures from PokerScout via Poker Industry Pro.

As a US facing brand, Bovada can be considered to be one of the beneficiaries of the US DOJ clampdown on online poker which began on Black Friday, in April 2011.

This is not a poker room facing declining traffic, even as the wider global online poker market is weakening.

The anonymous player recreational model which Bodog pioneered, is seen as a success which has been adopted at least partially by all the major operators.

Bovada also offers casino, sports betting and horse race betting, all of which will continue under the Bovada brand.

It is therefore hard to see the rationale for selling the online poker business, especially as there will inevitably be losses of synergy as the large player pool migrates to Ignition.

Corporate background to Bovada/Bodog

Bodog was founded in 2000 by Calvin Ayre. Six years later Ayre was listed in the 2006 “billionaires edition” of Forbes Magazine.

After the UIGEA passed later that year, he sold the online gambling business (paywall) to the Morris Mohawk Gaming Group (MMGG) based in Kanhawake, Quebec.

Bovada was created in 2011, a couple of months after Black Friday. The deal between Bodog and MMGG was ended and all Bodog’s US customers were transferred to the new brand.

Various legal proceedings affected the company, by both the federal government and the state of Maryland. At one point, Ayre was listed as one of the Department of Homeland Security’s 10 Most Wanted fugitives.

Few details available on new owner

Ignition Casino was launched earlier this year, with games provided by Rival and Real Time Gaming, two of the biggest online casino/slots games providers in the industry. Poker software was provided by Bodog/Bovada, and as mentioned above, the website is almost identical to that of Bodog.

All of these elements indicate that the business was not set up on the cheap.

There is almost no corporate information that I could find regarding Lynton Limited, the name of the permit holder listed for Ignition Casino on the Kahnawake Gaming Commission website.

If the sale of Bovada poker to Ignition was an arms length transaction, then the cost must have been substantial, certainly in tens of millions, possibly even over $100 million.

- A former founder of Poker Industry Pro and Head of Content at PokerNews publisher iBus Media, Joss Wood is a graduate in English from the University of Birmingham. Joss also holds a master’s degree in Organisational Development from the University of Manchester. His career path has taken him from the British Army, through business and finance to seven years as a successful professional poker player.
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