Launched in 2011, Bovada is regarded as the “bad boy” of the online gambling industry due to the way it skirts around US anti-gambling regulations. Nevertheless, the casino’s track record with players has always been stellar. It is the only unlicensed iGaming platform that’s considered safe by most industry experts, including Michael Shackleford. If you live in the United States and can’t access any locally-licensed sites, Bovada is guaranteed to be your best pass to the world of online poker, casino games, and sports betting – all with a single ID.
License and legal status
Before September 2016, Bovada operated under a license issued by the Kahnawake Gaming Commission, which is based in the Mohawk Territory of Kahnawake in Canada. However, ever since the launch of regulated online gambling on the state level in the United States, the KGC has been under a lot of pressure from US authorities, such as the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement. KGC eventually caved in and changed its regulations, forcing the sites operating under its umbrella to choose between giving up their licenses and refraining from offering their services to Americans.
Since catering to the needs of US-based gambling enthusiasts has always been the key to Bovada’s success, the site’s owners willingly relinquished their license, turning Bovada into a 100% rogue site. The fact that Bovada operates in direct violation of the US Unlawful Gambling Enforcement Act has no impact on the legal situation of its US customers. The UIGEA prohibits offshore businesses from accepting gambling-related payments from US citizens, but it does not ban Americans from playing on such platforms. Thus, joining Bovada is perfectly legal in most states, even though the site itself operates outside the boundaries of US federal law.
Bovada Casino Review
Bovada Casino is powered by software designed by well-regarded developers, such as Realtime Gaming, Rival, Visionary iGaming, Makitone, and Revolver Gaming. With 206 slots in total, Bovada isn’t the largest US-facing online casino, but its game selection differs from what’s available on most regulated sites, which tend to be supplied by other companies, such as Playtech and IGT.
Most Bovada slots feature a standard five-reel setup with multiple bonus rounds, Wilds, and Scatter symbols. If you prefer classic fruit machines or progressive jackpot games, you’ll still have a few titles to choose from, but the overall experience might get repetitive after a while. Fortunately, with 26 classic table games, 17 poker variants, and 22 specialty games, it’s easy to mix things up. If you’re a profit-seeking player, we recommend focusing on Aces & Eights Poker (99.78% RTP) or standard RTG Blackjack (99.46% RTP).
Bovada also gives players the option to play with a real dealer using video streaming technology.
Unlike standard online casino games, live dealer games don’t rely on a random numbers generator (RNG) to determine the outcome of each round. Instead, you’ll be playing with authentic casino equipment, just like you would in a brick-and-mortar gambling establishment. The list of games that can be played with a live dealer includes Blackjack, American Roulette, European Roulette, Baccarat, and Super 6.
Bovada offers a $1,000 casino welcome bonus, which can be redeemed three times for a whopping $3,000 in bonus cash.
The bonus plus deposit amount is subject to a 25x rollover requirement – if you deposit $100, you’ll have to bet 25x $100 + 25x $100 = $5,000 before you can cash out. Wagering contributions towards clearing the bonus differ from game to game. High-variance games such as slots or specialty games contribute 100%, table games contribute 20%, and video poker games contribute only 10%. Bets made while playing Craps or live dealer games don’t count at all.
In addition, the casino offers a special bonus for Bitcoin users, which follows the same rules but comes with a 150% match on the payment. This bonus is worth up to $1,500 and can also be redeemed three times.
Bovada Casino features a volume-based rewards system. The setup is simple: players earn Tier Points to climb the loyalty ladder as well as Rewards Points that can be redeemed for bonus cash. Note that these bonuses come with a 1x wagering requirement and can’t be cashed out right away. Climbing the loyalty ladder allows you to receive more cashback on your losses and more value on your RPs. Both RPs and TPs are accumulated at the same rate:
Video poker, table games – one point for every $1 wagered
Slots – five points for every $1 wagered
Specialty games – 15 points for every $1 wagered
To reach Pro 1 – the first loyalty level that allows you to exchange RPs for bonus cash at the rate of 1,666 points per $1 instead of the starting rate of 2,500 points per $1 – you must accumulate 25,000 TPs, which is equivalent to betting $5,000 on slots. In short, if you’re not a high-roller, your progress is likely to be painfully slow.
Bovada sportsbook review
Markets and odds
Bovada is one of the biggest US-facing offshore sportsbooks, and its only serious rival is BetOnline. The available betting markets are grouped into 30 categories, which range from popular sports such as football and baseball to e-sports, politics, and entertainment. Regardless of the category, the event coverage is top-notch – if something important is going on in the sports world, Bovada gives you a chance to wager your money on one of the possible outcomes. Live betting is also supported, so you’ll be able to spice things up as you watch your favorite teams compete on the field. The biggest downside of Bovada’s sports betting offering is the lack of a Best Odds Guarantee. What you see is what you get, so if you’re a serious bettor, you’ll have to cross-examine odds between different sites to get the most bang for your buck.
Bovada features a separate section for horses, allowing you to bet on races held in the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, South Africa, and Ireland.
Bovada offers a 50% Sports Welcome Bonus, which allows you to earn up to $250 for free. Unlike the casino bonus, this promotion can only be claimed once The rollover is 5x on both your initial deposit and the bonus amount – if you deposit $100, you’ll have to bet 5x $100 + 5x $100 = $1,000 to withdraw your promotional winnings.
If you make your initial deposit using Bitcoin, you will instead receive a 100% bonus worth up to $500.
Bovada offers the same VIP program to its sportsbook customers as it does to casino enthusiasts. Players still have to earn Tier Points and Rewards Points to reach higher loyalty levels and purchase cash bonuses. The biggest difference is in the rate at which these points are accrued:
Sports Singles – three points for every $1 wagered
Sports Teasers – 15 points for every $1 wagered
Sports Parlays – 25 points for every $1 wagered
All in all, the result is very similar if you focus exclusively on sports and straight wagers – the climb to Pro 1 and bigger cash bonuses are likely to be painfully slow. However, if you focus on parlays, you can look forward to better rewards as soon as you wager $1,000 – a reasonable goal for serious bettors.
Due to the skill-based nature of sports betting, punters receive about 60% less cashback on losses than casino players.
Bovada Poker Room Review
Along with Bodog and Ignition Poker, Bovada is a part of the PaiWangLuo poker network. With over 2,000 people online during peak traffic hours, it is the largest US-friendly poker platform in the world. Compared to licensed US-facing networks such as WSOP/888 US or PokerStars US, PaiWangLuo offers bigger prize pools and more cash game action.
Just like all the other PaiWangLuo skins, Bovada Poker supports anonymous tables – an option that’s highly popular among inexperienced players because it makes them feel safer. Consequently, the dominant playstyle on Bovada is very loose, making it an excellent place to pick up the game.
Since the software allows you to open up to four cash game tables, it’s also a decent hunting ground for seasoned grinders. If you’re looking to skin some fish in a casual online environment, you can’t go wrong with this site.
Bovada allows you to play both Texas Hold’em and Omaha using No-Limit, Fixed-Limit, and Pot-Limit structures. Omaha Hi/Lo is also supported, but if you’re looking for non-stop action, you should stick to standard NLHE cash games. Fast-fold tables are available as Zone Poker, providing you with a mobile-friendly alternative to grinding multiple tables.
Single-table tournaments on Bovada come in two varieties: classic Sit & Gos, which can be played in a heads-up, 6-max, or full ring format, and three-man Jackpot Sit & Gos, which feature random prize pools that can be worth up to 1,000 buy-ins.
Like all high-profile online poker rooms, Bovada features daily multi-table tournaments – but the weekend events definitely steal the show. The most important tournament is always hosted on Sunday and comes with a $100,000 guarantee. In addition, Bovada hosts two popular tournament series: the Black Diamond Poker Open and the Golden Spade Poker Open, both of which feature millions of dollars in guaranteed prize money and dozens of individual tournaments to choose from.
Bovada offers a 100% bonus for poker games, which allows you to receive up to $500 for free. Unlike other Bovada bonuses, this one won’t be credited to your account as soon as you transfer your money to the site. Instead, you’ll have to release it in six chunks of increasing size by accumulating Poker Points, which are earned when you contribute to a raked pot or pay tournament fees.
Since the rate at which you earn those points is not fixed, it’s impossible to calculate your cashback in advance unless you stick exclusively to tournaments. In that case, assuming a $500 deposit, the whole offer would be equivalent to a 25% cashback deal. Due to the way this bonus is structured, the less money you deposit, the more cashback you receive.
The poker VIP program is slightly different from sports betting and casino rewards – poker room customers earn Poker Points instead of Rewards Points. Aside from redeeming casino and sportsbook bonuses, these points can be used to purchase tournament tickets. Unfortunately, Bovada doesn’t offer VIP bonuses that can be cleared by playing poker, so if you’re not an MTT player and you don’t care about sports or casino games, you’ll get considerably less value out of this program.
Fortunately, poker players receive a little more cashback than bettors on their losses, which makes surviving the inevitable downswings somewhat easier.
All Bovada products can be accessed via a desktop computer and any modern mobile device. As is common practice these days, the sportsbook and casino are browser-based and don’t require you to download any specialized software. This also holds true for the mobile poker app, but the desktop poker client has to be downloaded from Bovada’s website.
Bovada does not offer any downloadable mobile apps.
Bovada deposits and withdrawals
The number of banking methods supported by Bovada is very limited. If you want to make a deposit, you can either use Bitcoin or your credit card. The latter option isn’t 100% reliable in the United States as American financial institutions are required by law to block transactions related to offshore gambling. Having your transaction blocked won’t put you in legal jeopardy, but it can still be frustrating. On a brighter note, if you find a card that works, it’s almost guaranteed to work every time. The minimum deposit you can make with a credit card is $20, while the maximum is $1,500.
Tip: if you don’t want to use your day-to-day credit card, consider purchasing a Visa Gift Card that can be used for international and online purchases.
When it comes to cashing out, your options include Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, and Check by Courier. Unlike most iGaming platforms, Bovada covers the cost of your first withdrawal via check every 90 days. Additional withdrawals cost $100 each, which can be problematic for budget players. All requests are processed within 48 hours. If you order a Bitcoin cashout, your money should arrive as soon as the network completes the transaction. Checks by courier usually arrive within 10-15 business days. The minimum amount you can withdraw is $100, while the maximum is $3,000.
Bovada offers higher limits for Bitcoin users and doesn’t charge any fees for cryptocurrency transactions.