Expert View of Bovada
Bovada should be your first choice if you’re depositing into an online sportsbook from the United States. They deal exclusively with Americans and offer an excellent welcome bonus and soft odds. They offer free and fast deposits and withdrawals with Bitcoin.
Bovada Sportsbook Summary
Bovada has been a part of the offshore online betting industry for nearly two decades (including the time as Bodog). They offer a full-service sportsbook and are the only sportsbook online that is exclusive to US residents. In addition to their sportsbook, they offer an online casino powered by Real Time Gaming (RTG).
It’s important to note that Bovada does not accept new accounts from players in some states due to the uncertain legal landscape of iGaming in those jurisdictions. These states include Delaware, Maryland, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Utah and Washington State.
History as Bodog
Bodog was just one of the many online sportsbooks in the US market but became a much bigger player after the passage of the UIGEA in 2006. Many operators left because of fear of US prosecution, but founder Calvin Ayre and his company decided to stick around.
With other competitors gone, Bodog ascended to become a top option worldwide for sports bettors, and especially in the United States and Canada. In 2007, Ayre decided to sell off his North American business to focus on European and the newly emerging Asian betting markets.
Ayre sold his North American arm to the Mohawk Morris Gaming Group (MMGG), a company based in Canadian Indian Territory. The group still owns Bovada today. This also marked the beginning of the Bodog Brand, which spawned many gaming sites such as Bodog88, Bodog UK, and Bodog Europe. There were also several non-gaming sites launched such as Bodog Fight and Bodog Music.
Most of these brands have closed up shop. Only Bodog.eu, which services Europe and Canada, and Bodog88 (Bodog Asia) remain.
In 2011, a rough year for online gamblers in the United States, Bodog remained relatively unscathed. However, the international brand wanted to separate itself from unregulated US traffic.
In December 2011, Bodog rebranded as Bovada. They offer their services only to American online sports bettors. Canadians moved to Bodog.eu. Fast-forward to 2014, and Bovada is one of the most respected brands in online gaming. As well as, one of the top sites in US betting markets.
A Personal Opinion on Bovada
What We Like About Bovada
There are few sites with a track record that goes back as far as Bovada’s, and in the offshore betting industry, longevity is everything. The longer a site has been around, consistently practicing legitimate business practices, the more trustworthy it becomes.
Bovada has always paid players quickly and is still tops in the US market for payout speeds via check. They offer one free check withdrawal per month and also have fast speeds for bank wires and person-to-person transfers.
Their support staff is one of the best around as well. They offer 24-hour phone support, 365 days a year, and their email response time is somewhat legendary. They quote a 24-hour response time but usually answer emails in several hours or even a few minutes.
The goal of sportsbooks is to make money, and Bovada certainly does that in a big way, but their track record and rulings always seem to be favorable to players. While some highly-rated US-facing offshore bookmakers have made some questionable decisions in the past, Bovada gives players the benefit of the doubt in most disputes. They truly seem to value their players and their bankrolls.
What We Do Not Like about Bovada
Their 4.9% charge on credit card deposits is pretty brutal. This is the primary method that bettors will use to deposit, and this additional cost is costing them five percent every time they deposit. Their deposit bonus makes up for this a little bit, but players will only receive that on their first deposit.
They’re not the best sportsbook for high volume bettors due to their lower limits, and they are quick to limit players who are beating them for substantial amounts. They also offer two sets of lines to their customers, something we’ll touch on in the next section of our review.
The Department of Justice likely despises them and may be trying to shut them down. Though Calvin Ayre may have sold off his stake in the company in 2007, that story is not necessarily true. Rumors of Ayre’s involvement in the company have circulated for years. No one knows for sure how involved he is in day-to-day operations, if at all.
Ayre has been added to ICE’s Most Wanted list, and Bodog had their .com domain seized by US officials several years ago (it was a dormant domain at the time of the seizure, however).
Ayre has long been a thorn in the side of the US government. His playboy, jet-setting lifestyle is part of the reason for his notoriety. Also, Bovada’s position in the US market is at the top of the heap, perhaps making them a bigger target than others. They are also one of the few offshore sites that ignore US copyright laws, and regularly use photos from NFL and NBA contests on their main page.
With that said, all sportsbooks who take US customers are at some risk from the Department of Justice. However, there’s no definitive proof that Bovada has a bigger target on its back than other sportsbooks. It’s simply something to where bettors should keep their eyes peeled.
What Bettors Are Saying About Bovada
Bovada is easily the sportsbook with the most positive feedback that services Americans. Most forum complaints will come from players who have been limited. They are tops on security compared to other sites, and their interface is top notch. It’s the leading choice for the casual and recreational bettor.
Bovada Deposits and Withdrawals
Deposit options for bettors are smaller than other sites. Bovada only offers players credit cards or Bitcoin as deposit methods. Accepted credit cards include VISA, Visa Gift Cards, and MasterCard.
Players will have to pay some upfront fees to send a transfer, but Bovada will reimburse players for fees if the deposit is $300 or more.
Currently, the only other option players will have for depositing is by Visa Gift Cards or Credit Card. If you’re against using Bitcoin – this is your only option, but it’s not a good one. Visa deposits will come with a 4.9 percent fee and MasterCard deposits come with a 6.9 percent fee. It isn’t worth paying such high fees when you can deposit with zero fees using Bitcoin.
Bovada shines with their payout speeds, which have led the offshore betting industry for years. Being paid when you win is more important than any bonus or odds difference. They are a shining example in the industry of how to do it right.
Processed checks take about a week in most cases, despite their given timeframe of 5-10 days. Requested checks have a limit of up to $3,000 and have a minimum amount of $50.
Bank wires have a limit of up to $9,500, making them a better option than checks. Perfect for those looking to unload a larger balance. They come with a $50 fee per request, along with fees charged to the intermediary and receiving banks. Processing a bank wire is slower than checks. They take 2-3 weeks.
Bovada offers one free payout per calendar month up to $50 for checks and bank wires.
Bitcoin Payouts and Deposits
We highly recommend Bitcoin. The crypto-currency does not come with any fees. Deposits and payouts are also processed much faster than other methods. Funds sent within 24 hours after requesting a payout. Player accounts credited with the deposits within a matter of minutes. Customers can request up to $9,500 per payout when withdrawing with Bitcoin.
Bovada Sportsbook Bonuses
Bovada offers a 50% Freeplay Welcome Bonus on new depositing players first deposit, up to $250. The rollover for the bonus and deposit amount is three times before players can withdraw it. They have thirty days to clear the bonus.
Their rollover is one of the better ones online at 3x. Bettors must wager the original deposit amount and the freeplay combined. For instance, if I deposited $500 and received a $250 freeplay I would have to wager $750 (500+250) x 3 = $2,250.
Bovada Sportsbook Betting Tip
Bovada is a favorite among well-seasoned online bettors. They offer excellent prices on underdogs and have just a 3x rollover on their Welcome Bonus. They have consistently paid players quickly with only a few delays in nearly 20 years of offshore betting.
Bovada Sportsbook Highlights
North American Focus, But Other Markets Available
Bovada is only for US citizens, but players wouldn’t know it by their odds selection. Their largest number of markets will focus on the main US sports, such as the NFL, NBA, MLB and NHL, along with college basketball and football, but they have odds on dozens of leagues around the world.
There are loads of futures and propositions on European soccer leagues, cricket, and loads of other sports. Rugby, cricket, darts, racing, horse racing, cycling, mixed martial arts and more are available in some form.
Betting options for most sports include teasers, parlays, if-bets, and reverses. They allow a fair bit of customization on their teasers, but aren’t quite on the level of 5Dimes when it comes to markets and bet customization.
Recreational Wagering Limits
As mentioned above, Bovada is a sportsbook that markets itself to recreational bettors. Bettors who want to wager thousands of dollars per game and not get themselves limited if they begin to win will have to look elsewhere. The sportsbook is conservative when it comes to betting limits.
The largest wagers they will take on the NFL and NCAA are $2,000 on sides and $1,000 on totals, parlays, and teasers. NBA spreads have a maximum bet of $1,000, and NBA moneylines and totals have a maximum of $500. NCAA spreads and totals both have a max of $500.
More important, Bovada posts their lines much slower than other US-facing sites and most other sportsbooks. When you’re betting big money, getting the best price is paramount and that usually means getting a jump on early lines.
Bovada doesn’t even offer overnight lines on MLB, the NBA and college basketball. Their NFL lines don’t go live until 6 pm on Monday evenings for the next week. This is 24 hours after other sportsbooks release their lines for the coming week. When the market has undergone major adjustments.
Even without the early jump on the lines and the dual pricing issue, Bovada offers some excellent value on underdogs because they shade their lines toward heavy public bets. This is even true if you “switched over” and are dealing with the sharper set of odds. Players will often find underdog pricing that beats the rest of the US betting market because of their heavy recreational base of players.
Bovada’s proposition markets are vast, especially when it comes to the NFL. Their maximum bet on props is $500 for most, but some can actually be slightly less. However, this still represents a chance for savvy bettors to find some hidden profits.
Bovada’s large numbers of propositions make keeping track of all of them by the oddsmakers nearly impossible. There are plenty of inefficiencies in these markets (NFL specifically) and are an excellent way for players to build a bankroll.
Related Online Sportsbooks
Excellent Customer Support
They respond to all emails within 24 hours, but they are usually much faster. We have received replies in less than a half hour to most of our queries.
Conclusion: A Top 3 Option
Despite their low betting limits compared to some other sites, Bovada is one of the kings in the US offshore betting market, and for good reason. Their reputation and brand have serviced players without interruption for over a decade, and they have always paid players as quickly as possible.
Their transition from Bodog to Bovada went without issue several years ago. Though they have had slight delays in payments in the past, they fixed these minor problems. Running an offshore sportsbook that services Americans is a tough business. Something that few outfits have perfected, but Bovada has come the closest.
This is one of the heaviest criticisms that knowledgeable bettors have with Bovada. The sportsbook actually deals two sets of lines to players. One set of lines is tagged for recreational gamblers and another set for customers who have a clue. In colloquial betting speak, these are generally known as their “square lines” and “sharp lines.”
Bettors who have been at Bovada for a long period of time may not even realize that they deal two sets of lines. The easiest way to determine if you’re dealt the sharper odds is to log out of your account.
Their standard odds or square lines will be available to those visitors without an account. The majority of Bovada’s clients are also dealt this same set of lines. Bettors who show an inkling of knowledge will turn over to the sharper set.
How fast will players get the sharp lines? That depends, but it can be quick depending on the types of bets made by the player. Some players have reported the change over in a few hours.
Bovada is famous for shading their lines toward public plays, such as spread favorites and overs. Even if you’re switched over to their sharp lines, there are still plenty of +EV betting opportunities.
Remember, few of Bovada’s customer base are savvy gamblers. Most of them rarely consider factors such as line shopping or seeking out +EV markets. Their head oddsmaker at one time stated that something like, “most of our action comes an hour before game time on most markets.”