Connecticut iGaming will go live in October, with two online casinos and three sportsbooks

One Connecticut Mystery Solved: RSI To Use SugarHouse Brand To Comply With State Rules

The Connecticut Lottery Corporation (CLC) chose the brand name it will use for its online sportsbook.

Somewhat surprisingly, it will go with PlaySugarHouse Sportsbookan existing but outdated brand already offered in other states by the CLC’s partner, Rush Street Interactive (RSI). Online gambling and sports betting have been legalized in the Nutmeg State, and operators are awaiting a launch that could come as soon as next month.

The Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection’s Gaming Division (DCP) still must license, review and certify the new sportsbook, as well as those from the Mohegan and Mashantucket Pequot tribes. Gov. Ned Lamont said on Sept. 9 that the launches will likely happen in October.

Mohegan Sun partnered with FanDuel as for online casino, sports betting and daily fantasy.

The Mashantucket Pequot partner is DraftKings. That tribe, which operates the Foxwoods Resort and Casino, said it also plans to offer iGaming as well as sports betting.

HB 6451, which Gov. Lamont signed into law in May, also allows for a limited range of iLottery products, and for CT online poker. The latter may be a while in coming, however.

Why PlaySugarHouse?

RSI’s main online gambling and sports betting brand is BetRivers. However, while DraftKings and FanDuel can both use their main brand without issue, RSI faces a problem due to a quirk of the state’s rules. These state that the lottery’s online sports betting partner cannot promote any retail casino brand.

PlaySugarHouse isn’t exactly a catchy name. Nor will it hold much resonance with Nutmeggers. While Connecticut does produce a certain amount of maple syrup, sugar houses (or shacks) aren’t as ingrained in the local culture as they are in other parts of North America. Even the Connecticut Office of Tourism admits Vermont and Québéc are more renowned for that.

Rob Lamothe – owner of Lamothe’s Sugar House, Connecticut’s largest sugar house – said in January on CTVisit.com:

“Connecticut maple syrup is wholesome and good, with the same high standards as those in Vermont and Quebec, because of the passion we have for it.”

However, that’s what RSI has to go with, since Rivers is a major chain of casinos operated by Rush Street Gaming, from which RSI is a spin-off. SugarHouse was originally the name of a Rush Street casino, too. It got that name from the Jack Frost Refinery, which once occupied the same site. However, it got rebranded as Rivers Casino Philadelphia in 2019.

That, and the introduction of the BetRivers brand, led to speculation that RSI would phase out the PlaySugarHouse brand. Connecticut’s branding rule adds new value to the name, however. Here, the fact that SugarHouse Casino no longer exists is a positive.

RSI may be acquired soon, impacting Connecticut Lottery skin

That’s one mystery solved. Yet, other questions keep popping up. Last month, rumors began circulating that RSI may be ripe for acquisition.

David Payne Purdum, who writes for ESPN Chalk, has added more fuel to the fire. He tweeted yesterday:

“Fanatics has had discussions with sportsbook operators Rush Street Interactive and Betsson to execute its sports betting plans and is considering acquiring one of the companies, per source.”

Whether and how that might affect Connecticut’s plans is a matter of speculation. Mergers and acquisitions have been happening at an eye-popping rate in the US online gambling industry. The strategic implications of those deals will unfold over the course of years to come.

- Heather Fletcher is the lead writer with OnlinePokerReport. She's a career journalist, with bylines in The New York Times, Adweek and other publications. Reach her at [email protected]
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