Connecticut Sports Betting Launch Could Come After NFL Opener

Connecticut Sports Betting Launch Could Come After NFL Opener article feature image

Rolf Schulten/ullstein bild via Getty Images. Pictured: Connecticut State Capitol.

FanDuel and DraftKings may not be able to launch their statewide mobile sportsbooks in Connecticut until after the 2021 NFL season opener.

The two sports betting giants entered the state under a 2021 gaming compact deal struck earlier this year between state policymakers and Connecticut’s Mohegan Tribe, which subsequently partnered with FanDuel, and Mashantucket Pequot Tribe, which partnered with DraftKings. The deal allows retail betting and opens the door for a separate online market, subject to federal approval.

The federal Department of the Interior received both the Mohegan and Mashantucket Pequot tribes’ compacts Tuesday, a DOI spokesperson confirmed with the Action Network. By law, the department now has 45 days to review the compact.

This means the DOI decision may not come until Sept. 10, one day after the NFL’s first 2021 game. The compact is not officially recognized until it is printed in the Federal Registrar, which could take several more days.

Further Requirements

Interior Department approval clears the way for retail sportsbooks at the tribes’ two casinos, the Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods Resort, respectively. However, the tribes’ online sportsbooks are still subject to additional state regulatory licensure, a process that could take several more weeks.

Connecticut regulators are advancing draft sports betting rules now, Kaitlyn Krasselt, Communications Director for the Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection, told the Action Network Tuesday. Once finalized by the DCP, the General Assembly’s Legislative Regulation Review Committee, a bipartisan, bicameral group of lawmakers, then must approve the rules before sports betting can begin.

The committee typically meets on the fourth Tuesday of each month, with its next meeting tentatively scheduled for Aug. 24. The committee may take up the rules next month but is not required to do so by law; inaction at the August meeting would almost assuredly delay sports betting further.

Connecticut Lottery Sportsbook

Meanwhile, the Connecticut Lottery is set to announce its online and retail sports betting partner in the coming weeks. The lottery’s partner will be the final legal book allowed to operate in the state.

Although not subject to federal approval, the lottery’s sports betting partner must also earn licensure from state regulators. Hypothetically, the lottery’s sportsbook could launch ahead of both DraftKings and FanDuel if all state regulations are approved ahead of the DOI’s decision.

The third sportsbook operator’s identity could be revealed during or before the lottery board’s scheduled Aug. 15 meeting. The lottery can not partner with an existing sports betting brand that shares a name with a casino, effectively ruling out major potential sportsbooks such as BetMGM, Caesars and Golden Nugget. So that doesn't rule out an operator like PointsBet, which isn't affiliated with a casino brand name.

The lottery’s sports betting operator can also offer daily fantasy sports. DraftKings and FanDuel both accept players now. No other DFS provider can operate in the state.

Up to 15 retail sportsbooks are allowed to open, all of which must be partnered with the lottery’s sports betting provider. All retail books are also subject to state regulatory approval.

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