Connecticut DFS Companies May Stop Accepting Paid Entries In July

Written By Derek Helling on June 30, 2021
Connecticut DFS players could be affected by a fantasy sports blackout starting July 1 unless some 11th hour moves happen.

If you’re looking to get a DFS play in for the NBA playoff games on Thursday, July 1, or thereafter in Connecticut, you might find that the app won’t accept your entry. That’s because a kind of Connecticut fantasy sports blackout takes effect on the first day of July.

Daily fantasy sports are now a regulated activity in CT, which requires a license to offer legally. Unless your favorite DFS provider is able to secure such a license in the waning hours on June 30, they’ll have to severely limit their operations in the state until such a time as they come into compliance.

What’s behind the Connecticut fantasy sports blackout?

Earlier this year, the state re-negotiated its gaming compacts with two tribal casino operators; the Mashantucket Pequot Indian Nation and the Mohegan Tribe. Simultaneously, the state enacted a new law that legalizes and regulates DFS in addition to online casino and sports betting.

That law takes effect July 1. To legally offer DFS contests requiring paid entries for real cash prizes, interested parties have to do two things:

  • Contract with either the Mashantucket Pequot or the Mohegans for market access
  • Get a provisional license (good until Sept. 30 or until permanent licenses become available) from the CT Dept. of Consumer Protection

The statute explicitly bars operators from accepting paid entries while awaiting licensure as well. As of early Wednesday afternoon, Consumer Protection had not announced any licensure.

Barring a change in that situation, that means DFS companies like DraftKings and FanDuel will either have to stop accepting paid entries from players in CT or risk being found in violation of state law.

They could spring back to life as soon as they secure a license. There’s no timeline for that right now, however. DraftKings might have satisfied the first requirement.

DraftKings’ deal with Foxwoods might fit the bill

Last December, the Mashantucket Pequot partnered with DraftKings Sportsbook for market access into CT for online sports betting. The deal also made DraftKings the official DFS partner of Foxwoods Casino.

It’s uncertain whether the tenets of that contract will satisfy Consumer Protection’s requirements, though. If not, the two parties will need to tweak their agreement.

That would make at least a temporary stoppage in DraftKings DFS in CT even more probable. FanDuel has yet to announce any kind of collaboration with either eligible tribal gaming group.

According to Alex Putterman of the Hartford Courant, DraftKings and FanDuel have agreed to pay the state $1.1 million as “back fees” for operating in the state without regulatory approval. That isn’t in lieu of a provisional license, however.

DraftKings and FanDuel might be able to continue to accept entries in CT in free-to-play games. Because there’s no consideration element to such contests, they don’t fall within the jurisdiction of the new law.

Unless there are Hail Mary moves late Wednesday, the landscape of DFS could see a drastic but maybe temporary change Thursday morning. For DFS players, the blackout will hopefully be short-lived.

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Derek Helling

Derek Helling is a lead writer for PlayUSA and the manager of BetHer. He is a 2013 graduate of the University of Iowa and covers the intersections of sports with business and the law.

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