Bovada was basically launched as a US-friendly alternative to Bodog, one of the first online sportsbooks to open shop and still operating to this day. With the difficulties involved in dealing with US bettors it was created as a separate entity under different ownership to deal with this difficult market without muddying the existing brand who continues to operate in other regions where online gambling is more widely accepted.
While best known for it's sportsbook operation, Bovada also offers an online casino, poker room and off-track betting for racing fans.
Due to the limited number of online sportsbooks/casinos/poker rooms currently accepting patrons from the United States, it is now one of the most popular gambling venues for US players (it's focus,) but comes with some caveats as a result. Most notably (and the cause of most complaints) is withdrawals are only processed in Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, or by check - with the latter usually having fees attached and obviously not being the quickest method to get your winnings.
The casino has a very reasonable offering of games, though not nearly as robust in the slots department as some of today's more popular venues that don't focus on the US. Popular table games include roulette, craps, baccarat, caribbean hold'em, Caribbean stud, 3 card poker, let 'em ride, pai gow, three card rummy and a few others. Bovada also offers live blackjack, roulette, baccarat and super 6 games at a variety of limits with great video streaming and a good betting interface.
There are well over 200 slot machines from different providers including RTG and Rival, including multiple progressive jackpots. While the number of choices are good, a lot of the slots are clearly more 'old school' than you'd find elsewhere, which isn't necessarily a problem depending on what you'd like to play - but don't expect a lot of the latest releases from popular game providers.
Playing on PC - there are 17 different video poker games including single hand, 3 hand, 10 hand and 52 hand varieties which all appear to be powered by RTG. All appear to be using (the now depreciated) Flash plugin at the time of writing this which may be a problem depending on what you're playing on - while there are purportedly mobile friendly video poker games available, these probably aren't them. (Though RTG video poker games were some of the best back in the day and are recommended if you can still access them.)
There are also a variety of bingo variants, keno and other specialty games. Overall, if they had a wider slot selection this would be a formidable casino in terms of game variety offered with lots of table games, video poker and alternative games offered.
Compared to other poker rooms that continue to accept players from the USA Bovada has a fairly good player base, though it falls far behind other rooms focusing on international players. It can be played with downloadable software on PC or Mac or via a browser based interface. The downloadable software also includes software versions of their casino games for those not looking for instant play via browser.
One of the most distinct things about their poker room is that players remain anonymous at any given table, a stark contrast to many popular poker rooms where naming yourself and adding custom icons for your player is the norm. Players are identified by "player1", "player2", etc. making it impossible for other players to track who they're playing against. Some players love this - it prevents any kind of poker trackers from knowing how bad I am at poker in my case, others feel the opposite - they'd like to remember and even follow bad players to try and win their bankroll - and/or bad beats are often attributed to 'bots' since there's no real identifiers.
Bovada's sportsbook offers a very good selection of betting options on all major sports, including MMA and even Esports (video games and whatnot.) Live betting odds are available and the wagering interface is clean and easy to follow. While the casino and poker room aren't perfect, the sports betting interface and options comes pretty close and is where they really shine.
I'm all for being honest to my readers, and I don't know anything about "playing the ponies" or off track betting in general - other than it's not as much fun as watching live races. Bovada does have a dedicated section for such wagers, whether it's any good or not isn't something I can really judge.
Bovada offers different types of bonuses depending on what you prefer to play.
Casino players receive up to $3000 in 100% match bonuses, a maximum of $1000 on your first, second and third deposit.
Sportsbook players can receive 100% up to $250 on their first deposit.
Poker players can receive 100% up to $500.
Make sure to read the terms and conditions carefully before accepting a bonus (especially for casino play) - as the playthrough requirements are trickier than most.
As it offers a full suite of betting options from casino games to horse racing and is accessible to most American players, it's easy to see why Bovada has a strong following. With that said, it wouldn't be our first choice for players outside of the US. The casino game selection is more than adequate but not exceptional, and lots of games come off as a little dated by today's standards. For card players, there are much busier poker rooms with better game selections and tournaments if you're playing outside the US.
Sure, the sportsbook is above average - but doesn't really make up for the limited withdrawal options assuming you have other quality options available where you're playing from.
Overall, definitely worth checking out for US players due to their limited options at the moment, just be sure to understand their cash out options and bonus terms before diving in too deep. For players in other regions, you're probably better off elsewhere.