Just days before the sale of the biggest unregulated U.S.-facing online poker site is finalized, a deal has been struck that will likely keep both Bovada and the new Ignition Casino poker offering out of the U.S.
Bovada announced in August it would discontinue its poker offering as of September 30 and sell that part of its business to a company called Ignition Casino. Although poker would no longer be available through Bovada, the company said its customers would still have access to Bovada’s sportsbook, casino, and racebook products. Poker clients were asked to migrate their accounts to Ignition Casino, which uses the same poker platform as Bovada, and promised to feature the same anonymous tables, Zone poker, mobile poker, and guaranteed tournaments, including a weekly $100,000-guaranteed tournament that Bovada had previously.
Now it appears a deal struck between Ignition and Bovada's Canadian licensor Kahnawake Gaming Commission and The New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement that will keep both entities from accepting U.S. customers as of September 30.
"The Kahnawake Gaming Commission has directed that an applicant or existing licensee that accepts players from a U.S. State without being authorized by the U.S. State to do so, is engaged in an activity that adversely affects Kahnawake’s jurisdictional integrity or reputation," reads a press release from the Kahnawake Gaming Commission issued September 26. "An application from an operator that engages in this activity will be denied. Existing licensees have been advised that, not later than September 30, 2016, they must modify their operations to conform to the Commission’s regulatory directive or their licenses will be terminated."
According to a release from The New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement, discussions that led to the agreement began when the arm of the New Jersey Office of the Attorney General discovered one of it's licencees, Continent 8, LLC, an Internet technologies firm, had also partnered with certain Kahnawake Gaming Commission licencees.
"The Division was able to ensure that any such websites originating from Kahnawake will no longer be available to United States residents in jurisdictions where these companies are not authorized to operate, after September 30, 2016," the press release reads. "As a result, sites such as Bovada, a leading provider of illegal online sports wagering and other online gaming content, will no longer be operating out of the data center located in Kahnawake."
New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement Director David Rebuck called this an important step towards ensuring the integrity of Internet gaming operations in New Jersey and ensuring local online gaming patrons can play on fair and regulated sites.
"The Division is pleased to have the KGC's assistance as a fellow regulator and looks forward to working together in the future," he said. "We were able to reach a series of agreements that are amenable to all of the parties involved and satisfy the Division's regulatory concerns. The Division appreciates the KGC's commitment and looks forward to its continued cooperation in the fight against unlicensed Internet gaming traffic."
Kahnawake Gaming Commission Chairman Mark Jocks echoed those sentiments.
“The Council and the Commission have had a direct and productive dialogue with DGE over the past several months,” he said. “We understand the DGE’s concerns about online gaming sites operating in New Jersey and elsewhere in the US without being properly authorized by a regulatory body in those jurisdictions.”
Kahnawake Grand Chief Joseph Tokwiro Norton said meetings with The New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement left him feeling like the Kahnawake's rightful place in the online gaming industry was understood.
“The DGE understands and respects Kahnawake’s significant accomplishments in the online gaming industry over the past 17 years — grounded on the exercise of Mohawk jurisdiction,” he said. “We consider the strengthening of our working relationship with the DGE to be a positive development for our respective jurisdictions, and for the online gaming industry.”
EDIT: It's been brought to the attention of PokerNews that Lynton Limited is no longer under the jurisdiction and regulation of the Kahnawake Gaming Commission, effective Sept. 1, per a press release from the commission.
"As of the effective date, the Commission no longer licenses or regulates Salmon River Technologies Limited, Lynton Limited or any gaming site operated by either entity," the release reads. "The Commission is not responsible for complaints received after the effective date concerning these entities or the gaming sites they operate."
Lynton Limited is the parent company of Ignition, which recently acquired Bovada's poker offering. It's unclear at this time what that means for U.S. players.