The online gambling industry would never be classified as fair, and that is definitely the case when discussing all that has happened in the United States during the history of the space. Just as companies that had spent a decade building their brands were breaking into the mainstream, the government introduced legislation that brought the industry to its knees. From those days, companies went in many directions, but one firm decided to pivot while maintaining the branding it took so long to nurture. This is our review of Bovada.
While the corporate documents may not exactly tie the two companies together, we all know that the Bovada brand is an offshoot of the original online caisno heavyweight Bodog. When Bodog had to shutter its U.S. business back in 2011, it quickly “sold” that business to a third party that planned to keep marketing to the United States. That new company, Morris Mohawk Gaming, is based on the Kahnawake reservation outside Montreal, which is conveniently where Bodog was also hosted. If you need any more proof of the close-knit nature of the groups, try pulling up the Bovada site from outside the United States – you will be asked to redirect to…you guessed it, Bodog.
While Calvin Ayre himself is no longer involved in running the business, his fingerprints are still all over the site. From the aspirational look and feel of the site to the color schemes that made Bodog so recognizable, the positioning allowed for a relatively seamless transition to the new site in 2011.
The Casino Games
While Bovada had multiple product lines (casino, sportsbook, and poker), we will focus our attention first on the casino games. The company has chosen to spread the wealth in this department, featuring games from three different software providers: Rival Gaming, Real Time Gaming, and Betsoft. These are the top three vendors that are available for U.S.-facing sites, so it is great to see them all in one central casino lobby.
We started our playing session with the slots games at Bovada. This is where you will see the real benefit of having multiple software providers. Each of the vendors has their strengths when it comes to their slots design, but we are the biggest fans of Rival’s iSlots games. These titles really take slots to the next level, with characters that follow along a storyline as you are spinning the reels. There are well over a hundred slots in total at Bovada, so even the most degenerate players will have plenty to choose from.
Table games and Video poker are both well represented in the Bovada lobby. With multiple versions of Blackjack, fun games like Let it Ride and Three Card Poker, and a full set of video poker variants, you are going to want to spend hours playing at this casino. The addition of some Live Dealer games into the mix adds an extra layer of entertainment to the Table Games experience and gives you a chance to feel like you are in a land-based casino.
Most players come to Bovada for the sportsbook, and when we clicked on the sports tab, we immediately understood why this is the case. Bovada is the leader in providing odds on sports for the American betting market, and you can find odds on pretty much anything you want to bet on at this site. The navigation is excellent, and all the standard bet types are available. While we tend to wait for NFL season to get our bets in, we figured we should place a couple of future bets while doing our testing of the site.
Even though they sold off the poker platform to Ignition Casino a few years ago, Bovada has recently added poker back into the mix – the non-compete clause in the sale must have expired. While the games aren’t as large as sites like Poker Stars, the options for American players are slim these days, and with a weekly $100,000 guaranteed event, most recreational players are going to be pleased to have access to poker from their Bovada account.
With the site only being open to U.S. residents, and the uncertain nature of the business in that country, it is not surprising that there is no app for download of the Bovada software. Have no fear: the games and site have been optimized to be accessed from the mobile browsers of most phones and tablets, so you will still be able to use your Bovada account without having to be in front of your PC.
The Welcome Bonus
Bovada has multiple Welcome Bonuses to choose from. This is a wise move for a site that offers multiple products, as the qualification methods are very different for sports, poker, and casino. We checked the Terms and Conditions, and it appears that you may be able to take advantage of all of these bonuses as opposed to taking only one, but you may want to doublecheck with the site before you make your deposits. Here are the four current offers:
Sportsbook Welcome Bonus: 50% Match up to $250.
Casino Welcome Bonus: 100% Match to $1,000 (available for use 3 times)
Poker Welcome Bonus: 100% Match Bonus to a maximum of $500
Bitcoin Welcome Bonus: Doubles your Sports or Casino offer maximums if you use Bitcoin for your deposits.
The Payment Options
Payment options are somewhat limited, but again that is due to the site only being open to U.S. players. Former owner Calvin Ayre has been heavily invested in Bitcoin for years now, and as a result sites like Bovada and Bodog have it as the main payment source. Once you have a Bitcoin wallet set up, using it is as simple as regular currency. However, you want to be careful with it as it is volatile, with values skyrocketing and plummeting over the last few months.
- American Express
- Wire transfer
- Bank transfer
The VIP Program
Bodog built an entire brand around the VIP lifestyle so you would expect that this site would also have a strong aspirational quality to it. Unfortunately, what we used to love about Bodog – VIPs being flown around the world to private events and being treated like Rock Stars – is gone, replaced by a multi-tiered program that allows you to redeem your loyalty points for cash. This is actually fine with us as it still provides a tangible benefit that we can add to our calculation of ROI. There are several tiers to the program, and once you reach a tier you never lose that status, so that is an added benefit. Each tier has an increased amount of cashback on losses as well, so overall we are pleased with this program even if we aren’t flown to Ayre’s house in Costa Rica anymore!
The Support Department
Bovada has a Frequently Asked Questions page on their website which is well organized, giving you access to a whole host of information that takes care of most players’ general queries. If you want to contact the support department for other reasons, you can reach them via telephone, Live Chat, and Email.
If you are a U.S. gambler looking for a one-stop solution for all your gambling needs, then you need to look no further and Bovada. The site still has most of the swagger of its predecessor, and with sports, poker and casino all rolled into one, we aren’t sure why you would need to go anywhere else. The rewards program is excellent, and the use of three different casino software partners means you will get a ton of great content right where you need it. Overall, we are very pleased with the site, and we highly recommend Bovada to our readers.