Connecticut Retail Sports Betting Clear Final Hurdle, Could Open Before Online Sportsbooks

Connecticut Retail Sports Betting Clear Final Hurdle, Could Open Before Online Sportsbooks article feature image
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Ron Jenkins/Getty Images. Pictured: Jonathan the Husky, mascot for the Connecticut Huskies.

Connecticut’s first retail sportsbooks could open in the coming days.

Federal officials formally cleared the FanDuel sportsbook at the Mohegan Sun and DraftKings sportsbook at Foxwoods Resort Casino, allowing both to take retail bets. A memorandum of the understanding was published Monday in the Federal Registrar, the final step for both retail books to open.

Neither casino has formally announced an opening date, but officials told the Action Network last month they planned to open soon after they earned final approval.

Connecticut’s online sportsbooks are set to launch Oct. 7, ahead of NFL Week 5. DraftKings, FanDuel and a Rush Street Interaction digital sportsbook (likely PlaySugarHouse) are set to open that day.

Connecticut Sports Betting Background

Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont and the state’s two gaming tribes, the Mohegans and Mashantucket Pequots, announced a new gaming compact earlier this year that allows the tribes to open retail sportsbooks at their respective casinos, subject to federal approval.

Lawmakers passed and Lamont signed a companion 2021 bill that will allow the two tribes open online sportsbooks and casinos, which will be regulated by the state government independent of the two tribes’ respective retail books.

The two tribes, in conjunction with their digital partners, can offer online sports bets, table games, slots and poker statewide.

Additionally, the law allowed a third online sportsbook under the purview of the Connecticut Lottery, which partnered with Rush Street Interactive. The lottery can also open up to 15 retail sportsbooks throughout the state, many of which will be at off-track betting facilities.

First Competitive New England Market Opens

Connecticut is the first New England state with multiple legal sports betting brands.

Rhode Island opened the region’s first retail sportsbooks in 2018, several months after the Supreme Court struck down the federal wagering ban. The pair of William Hill sportsbooks (now owned by Caesars) at the state’s two commercial casinos were followed by a mobile app launch months later.

Boston-based DraftKings won a de facto online monopoly in New Hampshire after agreeing to pay more than half its revenues in taxes to the state government in exchange for the exclusive rights to take digital wagers in the state. New Hampshire’s 2019 sports betting law also permits a handful of retail sportsbooks.

Connecticut’s retail and pending online launch could put more political pressure on Massachusetts to follow suit. The region’s most populated state has considered online sports betting legislation for three but has not yet passed a bill.

DraftKings highlights a list of sportsbook operators interested in a possible Massachusetts sports betting market. MGM and Wynn have spent hundreds of millions of dollars in full-scale casino resorts in the commonwealth and will push their BetMGM and WynnBet apps, respectively, if permitted by law.

Penn National operates a gaming facility in the state and its Barstool Sports brand was founded in Massachusetts. Other national market leaders such as FanDuel, Caesars, PointsBet and others would likely pursue a potential online sports betting license along with Massachusetts-affiliated companies such as Barstool and DraftKings.

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