The Federal Register published the one tribal compact 12 days after the other, leading to a delayed launch for CT

Stumble At The Starting Line: Connecticut Online Gambling Won’t Launch On Oct 7 As Planned

Connecticut delayed its launch of online gambling and sports betting today. DraftKings, Mohegan Sun and PlaySugarHouse will take bets soon, but not yet. Online casino, poker and iLottery sales are also legal, but likewise haven’t started yet.

Kaitlyn Krasselt, communications director with the Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection’s Gaming Division (DCP) – the state’s gambling regulatory entity – told Online Poker Report today:

“We are still working to finalize the details of the statewide online and retail launch of sports betting, and we are working with the licensees to ensure their platforms are certified and in compliance with the regulations prior to launch. As such, no date has been set, but we do not anticipate it to be a lengthy delay.”

Gov. Ned Lamont had anticipated Oct. 7 would be the online marketplace’s launch date.

Connecticut online gambling and sports wagering mean five states now offer both forms of betting. Prior to pending launch in the Nutmeg State, US online casino and sportsbook states were:

  • Michigan
  • New Jersey
  • Pennsylvania 
  • West Virginia

Technically, all five states are full-service online betting jurisdictions. Online poker is legal in each one.

However, Connecticut hasn’t yet approved operators and West Virginia doesn’t yet have operators offering the niche game. In the Mountain State, operators may be looking at the small population and the lack of multi-state poker as a reason not to launch there yet. That’s a legitimate worry for poker fans in Connecticut, too.

Why is the Connecticut launch delayed?

Although Oct. 7 had been the expected online sports betting launch day, a federal requirement delayed it. OPR‘s sister publication, Legal Sports Report, reported that the delay is because not enough time has elapsed since the Federal Register published the Mashantucket Pequot’s amended gambling compact on Sep. 27. A similar compact for the Mohegan Tribe had been published 12 days earlier and the launch might have gone forward as planned if both had been included at that time.

It’s not clear what caused the delay at the journal’s end.

Once Connecticut’s the online marketplace launches, the following will happen over the next five years:

  • The online casino tax rate will favor Mohegan and Foxwoods. Connecticut will receive an 18% cut of online casino gambling’s gross gaming revenue (GGR).
  • After that grace period ends, the Nutmeg State will get 20% of the GGR.

Connecticut online gambling will be a duopoly

We’ve known for a while now what Connecticut iGaming will look like when it does launch.

Mohegan Sun Online Casino will be brought to Nutmeggers by the Mohegan Tribe, powered by the FanDuel Casino platform. The tribe operates one of Connecticut’s two casinos – the eponymous Mohegan Sun.

In its Sept. 30 announcement about opening the Mohegan Sun FanDuel Sportsbook, Mohegan Gaming and Entertainment (MGE) said of its online casino launch date:

“After launching today in Connecticut, MGE and FanDuel will collaborate on the online casino experience under the Mohegan Sun brand, with more details on an official online launch date to be provided soon.”

The Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation operates the other one, Foxwoods Resort Casino. DraftKings is its partner. So far, there’s no mention of an online casino launch date.

The third skin, PlaySugarHouse Sportsbook Connecticut, belongs to the Connecticut Lottery Corporation (CLC). It won’t have an online casino.

Connecticut online poker is another story altogether. Although it’s considered to be part of online casino gaming under the state’s law, don’t expect any poker rooms to open immediately. Neither operator has a poker product ready to go at this time, and may not bother with Connecticut at all unless it joins an interstate poker compact.

NFL season is providing time pressure

All parties involved in Connecticut’s online betting marketplace had hoped to launch before the start of the NFL season. Ironically, federal approval of the amended gambling compacts arrived on that exact day.

On Sept. 9, kickoff happened for football and work the DCP would have to do to license, review and certify online gambling and sports betting applicants.

The DCP had a little over a month to get that work done. It might have done so, if not for the delays caused by the Federal Register.

Retail sports betting already underway

Last week, both of Connecticut’s land-based casinos launched their retail sportsbooks.

However, the Mohegan Sun FanDuel Sportsbook that began serving odds along with its loaded nachos in the Bow & Arrow Sports Bar on Sept. 30 had to briefly suspend wagering on Oct. 4. On Oct. 4, the Associated Press reported the suspended betting centered on the WBNA, “after questions were raised over a potential conflict in taking bets on the Connecticut Sun, a team also owned by the Mohegan Tribe.”

State lawmakers and “experts” raised the conflict of interest concern over the first bet placed when the book opened on Sept. 30. Gov. Lamont inaugurated the sportsbook by placing a hometown bet of $50, wagering that the Sun would be victorious in its playoff game with the Chicago Sky “by more than 7.5 points,” according to the Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment (MGE).

Legal Sports Report, sister site of Online Poker Report, said Foxwoods Resort Casino’s temporary retail sportsbook launched on Sept. 30. The DraftKings Sportsbook is in the Ultimate Race Book in Foxwood‘s Rainmaker Casino.

The permanent retail sportsbook will be ready in the coming weeks, DraftKings said in a Sept. 29 press release.

- 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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