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While the land-based casino industry in America is ostensibly segmented by state borders, the reality of the situation is that those individual markets – especially markets sharing a border – are inextricably linked.
And now that dynamic is beginning to drive the shape and pace of online gambling regulation.
The latest example: Connecticut residents wondering when online gambling regulation will make its way to the state should look north.
Not to state capital Hartford, but to Massachusetts, where the ambiguity surrounding land-based casino expansion is pausing any push for online gambling regulation in Connecticut.
The decision by Massachusetts officials to permit the construction of three casinos – operators still to be determined – in the state has effectively ensured an upending of the region’s gambling industry.
And with such a massive upheaval still looming, plans for online gambling have (logically) been placed on the backburner.
Mohegan Sun spokesman Chuck Bunnell told the NH Register that his company plans to wait and “see what happens to our bid in Massachusetts.”
But if that bid doesn’t result in a MA casino for Mohegan, a pivot to online gambling is the next best option – an option already embraced by Mohegan Sun, if only in theory at this stage.
Mohegan, says Burnell, believes “Internet wagering is inevitable. Either the state or federal government has to step in and regulate online gambling.”
Once the situation in MA is resolved, online gambling regulation could actually come quite quickly in Connecticut.
The state recently launched online horse betting. Mohegan Sun already operates a free-play online poker site powered by Ongame software in partnership with Amaya. And casino giant Foxwoods has a deal with GameAccount to offer play money, real money and business-to-business services related to online gambling once regulation takes place.
While there’s no legislative vehicle for regulating online gambling in Connecticut’s status quo, state officials don’t seem opposed to the idea.
State Rep. Steve Dargan told the Register that online gambling is the obvious “next step” for Connecticut, and said he wants to look at ways to “tap into that additional revenue.”
Mix that legislative attitude with a political push from Mohegan and Foxwoods once the uncertainty in Massachusetts is resolved, and the path to regulated online gambling in Connecticut becomes both clearer and a good bit shorter.