The casino industry in Connecticut may not be expansive but it is mighty. There are no commercial casinos in the state, but there are two robust tribal casinos. The size of these two properties is partially the result of the number of amenities they offer, making them true resort-style facilities. Many Connecticuters visit them regularly for reasons that have little to do with gambling.
Because of their size and variety, Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun casinos, are also among the largest sources of employment in Connecticut. For that reason, the gambling industry in the state will probably always have a lot of pull with local and state governments.
Outside of the state lottery and off-track horse betting parlors, they are currently the only other options for legal gambling in the state. As gambling expands for Connecticuters, these two tribal groups were obviously and heavily involved.
By law, they actually have to be. If Connecticut lawmakers wanted to expand gambling, they had to renegotiate the tribal compacts with the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation and Mohegan Tribe in order to do so, as they did in spring 2021.
As a result of those renegotiations, and with the federal government approving the compacts in September 2021, online casinos appear on their way as the next iteration of tribal gaming in Connecticut.
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Connecticut online casino progress
Last updated: Sept. 9, 2021
In May, Gov. Ned Lamont signed off on renegotiated tribal compacts. Four months later, they received federal approval. And within a month, potentially, the fruits of that labor might emerge.
The US Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Indian Affairs provided approval of those amended compacts recently. With lawmakers passing emergency regulations a little over a week ago, stakeholders remain optimistic that online casinos could go live in Connecticut by October.
All that’s left, according to a press release, is for the Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection to review and issue licenses for parties involved.
The Mohegan will pay 18% tax on online poker and casino for the first five years, then bump up to 20%. That Mashantucket Pequot, which renegotiated later than the Mohegan, will have a fixed tax rate of 20%.
What online casino games will be allowed in Connecticut?
You may not be able to jump around from machine to machine trying to find a “hot” one, but other than that, there isn’t too much difference between an online casino and a brick-and-mortar one.
If anything, online casinos eliminate something plenty of casino patrons hate: waiting. There is no waiting for a machine to open up or for the pit boss to open up a new Three Card Poker table.
Based on online casinos in other states, you can expect the following:
- Slots: Not just a few titles, either. In New Jersey, where online casinos has been around for several years, some online casino sites offer hundreds of different titles. You can also find a lot of the popular titles you play in the actual casino, like Wheel of Fortune, Buffalo Slots, and Kitty Glitter. Additionally, there are progressive slots, like Divine Fortune, which regularly produce massive six-figure paydays.
- Table games: All of the typical games you find on the casino floor, like blackjack, roulette, and craps should be available. What is nice too is that you can adjust the table limits to what you are comfortable with. They also go lower than the average table game where you could play for $1 a hand. There are also some lesser-known games like Three Card Poker and Pai Gow.
- Online poker: It will be interesting to see how Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun approach online poker. It is unclear if the tribal compact will allow for poker compacting. Additionally, given the big poker sites belong to the same companies as FanDuel, BetMGM, and Caesars. Do they do a poker-only partnership? Or do they go it alone with a self-branded poker site?
Foxwoods Resort Casino
The Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation has operated this resort in Mashantucket since 1992. To this day, it remains the largest gambling facility in North America. Through a gaming compact with Connecticut, the tribe has shared over $4 billion in revenues since 1993. The property actually includes four distinct casinos and five separate hotels. Additionally, visitors to its online social casino can play casino-style games online for free.
Foxwoods gaming floor
Inside each of the four casinos on-site, you can find slots and table games with live dealers. Some of the tables offer progressive jackpot games as well. On the slots, gamblers can build their tier points toward redemption through the Foxwoods Rewards program.
Table game offerings include roulette, blackjack, craps, and an innovative Play Arena. Located in the Great Cedar Casino, you can reserve your own Play Station and have action going on three different tables simultaneously. Several of the available tables offer you a chance at progressive jackpots as well.
The poker room is located within the Rainmaker Casino. When fully open, the room features almost 100 tables spreading Stud, Omaha, and, of course, No-Limit Hold’em.
Finally, the resort has space for bingo, keno, and a racebook as well.
The list of available amenities at this resort is quite long. Entertainment options are available for couples, families, and individuals, no matter your taste. Highlights include:
- Bowling alley
- Live shows
- Multiple restaurants
- Outlet mall
- Three spas
About the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation
The Mashantucket Pequot has one of the oldest reservations in North America, located near southeast CT. Tribal leaders and the Connecticut colonial government, under the English Crown, established the reservation in 1666. In addition to the resort, the nation also operates the Lake of Isles Golf Course, Pequot Health Care, Pequot Pharmaceutical Network, and the Spa at Norwich Inn. Visitors can learn more about the nation at its dedicated museum with exhibits spanning 18,000 years of its culture.
Mohegan Sun Casino
In 1996, the Mohegan Tribe of CT that has earned the nickname of the “Casino of the Earth and Sky” opened in Uncasville. The aesthetic of the resort boasts a 55′ indoor waterfall, a three-story crystal mountain called the Wombi Rock, and a 17,500 square-foot outdoor sun terrace.
Visitors can find over 300,000 square feet of gaming floor, two separate casinos and hotels, three distinct entertainment venues, and over 45 bars, lounges, and restaurants. Perhaps the most unique thing about this resort, though, is that it is home to the WNBA’s Connecticut Sun.
Mohegan Sun gaming options
In both the Casino of the Earth and the Casino of the Sky, players can find a variety of gambling options that contribute toward Momentum Dollars, the Mohegan Sun loyalty program. Poker rooms offer daily cash games and tournaments. If you’re a poker enthusiast, you can find a game to your liking among tables offering 7 Card Stud, Badugi, and Razz. The two casinos also offer nearly 5,000 slot machines. Progressive jackpots are up for grabs on many of those consoles, ranging from quarter plays all the way up to $100 high-stakes titles.
Over the expanse of 300 gaming tables, you can try your hand at games like Pai Gow, Sic Bo, and Wheel of Fortune. If you want to get into the action on a heavier basis, you can get in on Fusion Hybrid play. Fusion Hybrid is a touchscreen console that allows you to have a seat at up to four different tables at the same time. Many of the tables include options to play for progressive jackpots as well.
Should pari-mutuel wagering on horse races be what you’re looking for, the Mohegan Sun has you covered as well.
Mohegan Sun amenities
If the 130,000 square-foot retail shopping area or two spas aren’t to your liking, perhaps the comedy club or Mohegan Sun Golf Club will be. Other available amenities include:
- Bowling alley
- Cyber Quest and Kids Quest areas for children
- Live shows
- Wine tastings
Mohegan Sun online casino
The Mohegan Tribe operates regulated online casinos in both New Jersey and Pennsylvania under the licenses of brick-and-mortar casino partners in those states. On those digital properties, people in those states can play many of the same live dealer, slots, and video games that are available at Mohegan Sun in CT. This also means that when the same gambling form becomes legal in CT, the Mohegan Tribe will likely waste no time in offering it to gamblers in the state. Currently, CT residents can play a limited version of the online product for free at the Mohegan Sun social casino.
About the Mohegan Tribal Nation
Oral traditions claim the Wolf Clan of the Delaware Tribe, or Mohegans, settled in what is now upstate New York and then migrated to southeastern Connecticut. The Mohegans befriended English settlers in the colony in the late 17th century, establishing their reservation. Today, Mohegan Holdings includes the operation of the Mohegan Sun resorts in Connecticut, Las Vegas, and Pocono, Jersey Mike’s Subs, Pasta Vita, and other properties throughout North America. The nation also is active in pushing for renewable energy and the restoration of its native language.
The Bridgeport casino controversy
For years, the two tribal groups in Connecticut and other gambling companies have pressed for a third casino, either near Bridgeport or East Windsor. Right now, that’s a non-starter issue, however. In mid-2017, the CT Senate approved a bill that would allow for this property that would be co-owned by the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan nations. MGM filed a lawsuit, as did the Schaghticoke Tribal Nation, arguing they were not given a chance to advance their interests in operating a Connecticut casino. Although then-Gov. Dannel Malloy supported the new CT casino, the bill did not pass the CT House.
Later in 2017, MGM seemed to move off its plans to open the first commercial casino in Bridgeport. More plans for the proposed property surfaced in May 2018, when the CT House approved a bill allowing parties to submit such proposals.
At the same time, both chambers of the legislature gave their consent to a third tribal casino in East Windsor. The East Windsor project seemed only in need of federal approval to move forward, but the CT Attorney General at the time warned the bill may not survive a court challenge that would likely come from MGM. Thus, the project has sat idle for years.
In early 2021, the tribes renegotiated their compacts with Gov. Ned Lamont. Although they await federal and legislative approval at the time of this writing, there’s an important article in the compacts. In exchange for a temporary easement of revenue sharing on online casino proceeds, the tribes have agreed to shelf the East Windsor casino project for at least next the following decade. It’s uncertain whether that project will ever move forward right now.