Connecticut Sports Betting Takes Another Step Toward Fall Launch

Connecticut Sports Betting Takes Another Step Toward Fall Launch article feature image
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Williams Paul/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: UConn Huskies mascot.

Connecticut’s first online sportsbooks cleared another procedural hurdle Tuesday after lawmakers approved emergency sports betting rules.

Operators are still not cleared for a launch ahead of the 2021 NFL season opener Sept. 9, but Tuesday’s rules approval opens the door for a potential launch next month.

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Key Details

The legislature’s Regulation Review Committee approved temporary regulations that will allow the state’s online sportsbook operators to proceed with state licensing requirements. Connecticut gaming officials told the Action Network earlier this month this process could take between two-to-six weeks.

Additionally, the state’s two tribal partners are awaiting federal approval for retail sportsbooks, which is expected within the next two weeks. If approved by federal tribal gaming officials as expected, Foxwoods Resort partner DraftKings and Mohegan Sun partner FanDuel could open retail books at their respective casino properties by the first NFL Sunday of the 2021 regular season.

DraftKings, FanDuel and Rush Street Interactive, the three operators allowed to offer retail and online sports betting under Connecticut’s 2021 sports betting law, have not announced a timeline for their respective online launches as Connecticut regulators begin the final licensing process. Rush Street, which will promote its sportsbooks under the SugarHouse brand, is also set to open as many as 10 retail sportsbooks as early as this year as part of a partnership with the Connecticut Lottery.

The two tribal partners can also offer online casino gaming once approved by state regulators. Connecticut will join New Jersey, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Delaware and Michigan as the only states with legal online casino gaming.

DraftKings and FanDuel were previously granted temporary licenses to offer daily fantasy sports contests. The Connecticut Lottery and Rush Street can also open a DFS site, subject to regulatory approval.

The 2021 gaming bill also permits online keno and lottery ticket sales.

Next Steps

The Department of Consumer Protection can now begin the licensing process for the three online sportsbook operators as well as their respective partner vendors. This includes background checks, testing and a variety of other measures that could take several weeks to complete.

The emergency rules approved Tuesday expire after 180 days. The bipartisan, bicameral Regulatory Review Committee will need to pass final rules following a public comment period.

With emergency rules adopted, final regulations should also be approved, but Tuesday’s meeting underscored remaining concerns among lawmakers.

The rules passed 9-4, with several opposed citing concerns about payment options. Some lawmakers questioned payments through joint bank accounts, worrying one member could lose significant money on gambling without the other owner’s consent. Others pushed for a more expansive array of payment options, including Apple Pay, Venmo and PayPal.

It was unclear after Tuesday’s meeting which way lawmakers would vote on final regulations. Payment options will be a key deliberation point when legislators look to codify the final rules by early next year.

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