Connecticut Retail Sportsbooks Open; Online Betting Set for Next Week

Connecticut Retail Sportsbooks Open; Online Betting Set for Next Week article feature image
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M. Anthony Nesmith/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: General view of the Connecticut Sun logo.

Connecticut‘s first legal retail sportsbooks opened Thursday, days before mobile sports betting is set to launch statewide.

Foxwoods Resort (DraftKings) and Mohegan Sun (FanDuel) opened temporary sportsbooks at their respective casinos Thursday morning. Gov. Ned Lamont, who championed the gaming compacts and ensuing legislation that permitted legal wagering, placed the state’s first bet on the Connecticut Sun to defeat the Chicago Sky in Game 2 of the 2021 WNBA semifinals.

Both casinos plan to formally christen full-scale permanent sportsbooks in the coming months. DraftKings released a statement announcing Foxwoods’ temporary book would feature a betting window and that kiosks would be available throughout the property.

“Today we celebrate a new era for our Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation, sports fans, Foxwoods guests and Connecticut residents,” Rodney Butler, Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Chairman, said in a statement. “We thank Governor Lamont and his administration, regulators, and the many lawmakers who helped pave the way for legal sports betting and expanded gaming in the state.

“Their collaboration and hard work has allowed trusted gaming operators like our Tribe and DraftKings to help lead innovation across Connecticut. With NFL season in full force, it’s game on, and we look forward to a successful launch.”

Football season is perennially American sportsbooks’ most lucrative time of the year. Thursday’s retail launch will allow bettors to wager ahead of the first games of NFL Week 4. Officials are targeting the statewide mobile launch ahead of Week 5 games.

Mobile Betting Details

DraftKings and FanDuel, partnered with the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan Tribe, respectively, expect to launch their statewide mobile wagering platforms by Oct. 7. Rush Street Interactive, partnered with the Connecticut Lottery for the state’s third and final sports betting license, expect to launch in conjunction with the two tribal-partnered books.

Connecticut is the third New England state to accept a legal sports bet and will soon have more online sportsbooks than the rest of the states in the region combined. DraftKings is the long legal sports betting option in New Hampshire while Rhode only offers one sportsbook in partnership with its Twin River casinos.

The two tribal-partnered gaming providers can also offer statewide iCasino gaming, including digital slots and table games. Legal casino gaming is only available in a handful of states and is consistently more commercially lucrative than sports wagering.

Though the lottery can’t offer iCasino, Rush Steet Interactive can open as many as 15 retail sportsbooks across the state, many of which are planned for Connecticut’s off-track betting parlors. The first non-casino retail sportsbooks are set expected to open later this year.

Connecticut’s sweeping gaming law also formally legalizes daily fantasy sports, though DFS operators must partner with one of the three aforementioned entities. Online lottery ticket sales and digital keno are also now permitted in Connecticut.

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Connecticut Gaming Background

Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun helped spark rapid expansion of tribal (and, subsequently, commercial) casino gaming since their openings in the early 1990’s. Still among the world’s most lucrative and high-profile resort casinos, both of their respective tribal operators had worked with multiple state gubernatorial administrations for further gaming expansions.

After former Gov. Dannel Malloy failed to reach an updated gaming compact with the two tribes before leaving office in early 2019, Lamont’s administration spent years negotiating a deal for expanding digital gaming options. In spring 2021, the Mashantucket Pequot, Mohegan and Lamont announced a groundbreaking deal that would permit statewide mobile gaming for the tribes as well as the Connecticut Lottery.

The compact and partnering legislation were the first such agreements that split sports betting licensing allocation between gaming tribes and a state-run lottery. Connecticut is also just the second state after Michigan that allows gaming tribes to offer online iCasino off sovereign tribal lands.

Federal officials finalized the two tribes’ retail sports betting agreements Monday. By federal law, digital gaming off tribal lands is subject to state-level regulatory agreements, which were finalized earlier this month.

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