States with tribal gaming interests have run into a lot of different hurdles when it comes to legalized sports betting, but the state of Connecticut seems to have finally gotten over all of them.
Negotiations were ongoing in Connecticut for a long time between Governor Ned Lamont and the two tribes, the Mashantucket Pequot, who run the Foxwoods Casino, and the Mohegan, who run the Mohegan Sun Casino. All parties wanted a cut, from the tribes to the state, to the lottery, and everybody in between, so the process took a lot of time.
It looks as though the finish line is finally in sight, as the Connecticut sports betting bill was signed into law on May 27, 2021. Following federal government approval because the Native American tribes are involved, the state’s operators and the sportsbooks will start coming together to finalize partnerships and get the infrastructure up and running to begin taking bets.
It took three years of negotiations, but everybody seems to be on the same page and that means that Connecticut should take its first legal wagers sometime during the 2021 NFL season. It could be quicker than that, especially because the two tribes have already reached agreements with sportsbook operators. We’ll see how many the state lottery can partner with and how many choices bettors will have.
It is also interesting to note that this expansion of gaming in Connecticut also includes iGaming, which means that online casinos are also coming to the state through this new piece of legislation. That means the ability to play slot machines and table games from home or on the go on your computer or mobile device.
At present, we know for sure that DraftKings Sportsbook will be partnered with the Mashantucket Pequot tribe, so there will be a retail DraftKings Sportsbook at Foxwoods and that agreement will allow online sports betting across the state with DraftKings. The two sides reached a deal in December 2020, so we should have seen the writing on the wall that Connecticut would join the ranks of those that allow legal sports wagering.
The Mohegan tribe partnered with Kambi, which means there are a few options that include Unibet, BetRivers, or a Barstool Sportsbook.
The lottery is going to have an online skin of its own as well and bidders will be submitting their proposals through June 11 and the lottery will decide by June 28 which sportsbook to work with. FanDuel Sportsbook is probably a good bet there, but we’ll see how it all plays out.
The lottery will have the one online skin, but also the ability to have up to 15 retail locations across the state. There are some OTB facilities that could be logical partners or there are lottery locations in or around major cities that could wind up with betting kiosks or something like that. In that respect, the situation is still very fluid.
DraftKings Sportsbook is going to be one of the prominent options for sports betting enthusiasts in Connecticut. Through a partnership fostered with the Mashantucket Pequot tribe in December 2020, we’ll see a retail DraftKings Sportsbook at the Foxwoods Casino Resort in upstate Connecticut.
The agreement will also give DraftKings access to offer mobile and online betting in the state. It remains to be seen if DraftKings and Foxwoods will come together to offer some kind of online casino play, or if Foxwoods will do that independent of the sports betting app, but the expansion of gaming in Connecticut does include online casinos.
DraftKings Sportsbook is a very familiar brand to those in the state, as many are aware of its monopoly in the New Hampshire market and also its presence in other nearby states like the retail sportsbook in New York and the immense success that DK has experienced in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
DraftKings usually offers a sign-up bonus worth up to $1000.
We’ll have to wait and see what Mohegan Sun in Uncasville decides to do with its Kambi partnership. Kambi’s choices at the casino owned by the Mohegan tribe will be BetRivers, Unibet, or a Barstool Sportsbook.
BetRivers Sportsbook is part of the Rush Street Interactive family and the betting odds are very similar to what you would find at DraftKings. BetRivers is known for its strong Live Betting platform with support from Rush Street and also Kambi, so it is a really powerful app on the technological side.
Like DraftKings, Connecticut residents know BetRivers from the retail sportsbook at the Rivers Casino in upstate New York and also from its presence in Pennsylvania.
BetRivers offers a 100% Deposit Match Bonus up to $250.
It is possible that Unibet Sportsbook, a betting platform out of the United Kingdom, continues its northeast expansion into Connecticut. Right now Unibet’s two biggest states are New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Online casinos are approved in both of those states, so we could see a big bid from Unibet to either pair with the lottery or get the license at the Mohegan Sun.
Unibet isn’t as well-known to US players as DraftKings and BetRivers, but it is a brand actively trying to expand its reach. Connecticut seems like a good location to do that. In fact, Unibet could be a sneaky favorite for the Mohegan Sun license.
Unibet offers a Risk-Free Bet up to $500 in most cases, but we could see a special deposit bonus in a new state.
Barstool Sportsbook is a bit of a long shot here, as Penn National Gaming and Barstool don’t have many agreements with tribal casinos, but you never know. Money talks. The Barstool brand is very big in the northeastern United States, but also has a global presence for a variety of reasons.
We haven’t seen a ton of expansion from Barstool yet, so this is the least likely of the partners for the Mohegan Sun, but anything is possible.
The lottery decision will come down about a month after the bill was signed into law, but FanDuel Sportsbook absolutely makes the most sense here. FanDuel will want to be able to go head-to-head and compete with its chief competitor in DraftKings. FanDuel Sportsbook has partnered with states that go through the lottery in the past, including Tennessee and Virginia, so it wouldn’t be any sort of uncharted territory for them.
An agreement with the lottery would lead to retail betting at approved kiosks and lottery locations, but would not include a retail sportsbook. That means that the vast majority of FanDuel Sportsbook’s action would come through the mobile app or the website.
FanDuel Sportsbook is the nation’s most popular brand and with so much visibility and marketing, everybody in Connecticut knows the name and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see FanDuel as the operator that has the most success in the state.
For new customers, FanDuel typically offers a Risk-Free Bet up to $500, but we could see a special offer in a new state.
BetMGM Sportsbook will be in the running for the lottery license, but may simply have to wait and see if the MGM Bridgeport Casino that was supposed to begin construction could be the way into the Connecticut sports betting ring. BetMGM does operate in states that do not have an MGM Resorts International property, but with only three licenses available in the initial stages of legal sports wagering in the state, it seems like it will be tough for BetMGM to get in.
If BetMGM can find a way in, the BetMGM Casino might be the tops in the market at present, so that would be a big boost to the iGaming side of things in Connecticut.
BetMGM offers a Risk-Free Bet up to $600 in most states, but new states have had better offers in the past.
Sports betting in Connecticut was legalized at the state level on May 27, 2021 after three years of negotiations between the state, the CT Lottery, and the two tribes, the Mashantucket Pequot and the Mohegan. Governor Ned Lamont and the state legislature finally helped broker the deal that led to a massive expansion of gaming in the state of Connecticut.
The legislation not only allowed for three online sports betting licenses and up to 15 retail locations under the state lottery, but also iGaming that brought online casinos to the state. An existing partnership between DraftKings Sportsbook and the Mashantucket Pequot tribe that owns and operates the Foxwoods Casino gave Connecticut its first sports betting operator.
A Kambi partnership with the Mohegan tribe narrowed the focus for the second operator and the state lottery accepted bids for two weeks after the bill was signed into law to get its official online betting partner.
Despite being a small state by size, Connecticut is a rather densely populated state with over 3.5 million people, so sports betting has the chance to be a thriving and booming business, especially as New York still struggles to get its affairs in other with offering online and mobile sports betting so that the people of New York City can be more conveniently and easily without having to leave the state to do so.
Right now, you cannot. Eventually, you will be able to. Something will have to give at some point, perhaps when MGM starts to apply more pressure because their new property in Bridgeport was expected to have a sportsbook and a betting lounge. That could put the lawmakers in an even tougher spot.
Nevertheless, if you really want to bet on sports and live in Connecticut, you can find a way. You just have to travel in order to do it. New York has legal sports betting, but only retail betting in the upstate. Rhode Island has legal sports betting. Massachusetts does not have sports betting as of yet, but could be live by the 2020 NFL season.
Train rides down to New Jersey or Philadelphia are probably the best bet for those that want to bet on sports. Online, mobile, and retail wagering are available in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, so that would likely be the preferred course of action for those that want to go and bet on the NFL, NBA, NHL, MLB, college sports, etc. The only difference between PA and NJ is that wagering on New Jersey college teams or events held in the state is not allowed.
Unfortunately, people in Connecticut cannot bet on sports from home quite yet, but it will happen at some point.