Sports betting is expected to be up and running on October 7th, in time for football fans to place bets on most of the games during the 2021-2022 season. Governor Ned Lamont signed the law that legalizes sports betting in May. The bill includes provisions for online casino gambling and mobile sports betting options.
In addition to online sports betting sites and retail casino sportsbook, the Connecticut Lottery Corp., in conjunction with Sportech, will operate 15 sports betting kiosks around the state. In addition to its brick-and-mortar kiosks the Lottery is partnering with Rush Street Interactive to run an online sportsbook.
The state’s two casinos will be offering both online and on-site sportsbet offerings – the Mohegan Sun is working with the online sports betting operator FanDuel and Foxwoods Resort Casino is partnered with Draft Kings. The legislation addresses problem gambling behavior by prohibiting the user of third-party payers such as Apple, PayPal or Venmo in order to limit a gambler’s accumulated debt – bettors can use only one credit card at a time. Retail betting will be allows at the state’s two land-based casinos, the Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods Resort Casino.
Some of the details of the new Connecticut legislation include a ban on betting on Connecticut college sports teams unless the team is playing in an intercollegiate tournament (such as basketball’s March Madness) with four or more teams. Odds on major sports will be determined by each operator’s sports book and betting lines.
Negotiations with the state’s two gaming tribes, the Mohegans and Mashantucket Pequots, was a major issue in the legislature’s effort to change gambling laws in Connecticut. The Mohegans and the Mashantucket Pequots had compacts with the state that gave them exclusive gambling rights in the state in exchange for 25% of slot revenue.
Over the last 3 years, following the Supreme Court’s decision to allow states to legalize sports betting, Connecticut saw potential revenue being diverted to nearby states that went ahead with sports betting, notably New Jersey and Rhode Island. The Mohegan and Mashantucket Pequot tribes argued that their compact with the state gave them exclusive rights to gambling in Connecticut which made it difficult for Lamont and the state legislature to allow other operators to offer mobile betting in the state.
The tribes contended that sports betting is a casino game which gives them exclusive rights to offer it in the state. Lamont’s administration held otherwise and the years passed without an agreement. The deal that was finally struck gives Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods the right to run online gambling from their casinos in return for the state to be able to bring in other mobile operators to run mobile sportsbooks.
In addition, Lamont’s vision of having the Connecticut Lottery Corp enjoy a piece of the action was given the go-ahead.
The state wanted to avoid lawsuits that could complicate and delay the introduction of online casino gaming and mobile sports betting. Sportstech, which had already been running off-track betting sites in the state, was threatening to go to court if it wasn’t given a piece of gambling expansion.
As part of the new agreement Sportstech will partner with the Lottery to operate the 15 retail gambling.
The MGM casino in nearby Springfield MA was also threatening to challenge any decision that would award the Mohegan and Mashantucket Pequot tribes the right to open a third state casino in East Windsor without allowing a competitive selection process.
The tribes have now delayed such plans indefinitely because the promise of being able to move forward with sports betting and online gaming opportunities has made it worthwhile for the tribes to avoid the risk of launching a chancy legal fight for the East Windsor property.
Benefits and Concerns
The state has placed a 13.75% tax on sports wagering. In addition, Sportstech and Rush Street will pay over $170 million for the exclusive rights to operate their portions of the new online and sports betting opportunities. The tribes already pay 25% of their retail slots revenues to the state.
They will pay an 18% tax on online gaming for the first five years and 20% after that. The state projects that it will reap approximately $330 million in annual revenues from online casino gambling and $88 million. Totaled, this comprises 2% of the state’s annual budget.
PlayCT, a Connecticut gambling news website, estimates that over the course of the next decade, the state’s gambling market could evolve to bring online casinos as much as $350 million in annual gross gaming revenues, $100 million in revenue for operators and more than $1.5 billion in annual sports wagers.
Eric Ramsey, analyst for PlayCT.com’s parent network PlayUSA.com commented, “Connecticut is a relatively small state, but the market has a handful of attributes that should help it punch a bit above its weight. Geographically, the state is in a good place, with the potential to draw significant out-of-state business from New York and Massachusetts. And Connecticut features one of the highest median household incomes in the U.S.”
Anti-gambling activists are concerned that the increased access to gambling will lead to more addictive behaviors and more problem gambling. The legislation earmarks several million dollars to public service efforts to deal with the issue.
The legislation also has a voluntary self-exclusion program built into it that enables anyone to bar themselves from online gambling. People can self-exclude for varying periods of time ranging from one year to life. The program will be operated by the Department of Consumer Protection.
Daily Fantasy Sports was neither explicitly legal nor illegal before the new legislation was passed but not major operators DraftKings and Fanduel can peddle their wares to Connecticut players.