Online Connecticut sports betting and iGaming could launch next week, but the general public won’t yet be able to participate.
Ray Pineault, CEO of Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment, told PlayCT that Connecticut tribes are hoping to get a soft launch date confirmed Thursday.
“The state is still in the process of testing systems, of testing games,” Pineault said from the G2E conference in Las Vegas. “They were hopefully going to be complete with that by tomorrow. There’s a meeting set tomorrow with the state in which we hope to get a soft launch date.”
However, the initial launch won’t be open to the general public.
Soft launch for CT online sports betting and online casino
In Connecticut, FanDuel Sportsbook partnered with Mohegan, DraftKings Sportsbook partnered with the Mashantucket Pequot, and the Connecticut Lottery‘s sportsbook will be offered through Rush Street Interactive.
These operators must limit the number of players that register for an account over the first week.
Pineault said only invited players will be able to go online in the first week of online sports betting and iGaming.
“State regulations require we have seven days of limited launch where we limit the number of players that can have access, they can test it, and then we shut down for a couple hours so they can review the system and make sure it worked the way they intend it to, and then we can open up to the public.”
The operators must limit the number of players who create an account to 750, even if those players don’t place a bet.
The Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection wants to check the registration, know your customer (KYC), and geofencing processes.
After one week and two hours, the operators hope to receive state approval for an immediate full launch.
For now, most seem happy with the recent launch of retail sports betting in the state.
Retail sports betting soft launch goes well
The Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods Resort Casino launched retail sports betting last week.
Despite not doing any advertising because they didn’t have much notice on the launch date, the Connecticut tribes thought the retail sports betting launch went well.
They got a helping hand from an old friend, Tom Brady.
“We were very fortunate to open up for Week 4 of the NFL season because Tom Brady was playing the Patriots,” Pineault said. “Even Patriots fans bet on Tom Brady, so it was a tremendously successful weekend. Because everyone thought Tom Brady was going to crush the Patriots, and the Patriots covered.”
After years of compact negotiations, Mashantucket Pequot Chairman Rodney Butler told PlayCT he was happy to finally bring sports betting to Connecticut.
“It was years in the making, and it was certainly worth the wait,” Butler said. “It was a soft launch, so we’re still working on some bugs. But it definitely generated the foot traffic on the property that we were hopeful for.”
Permanent CT sportsbooks will take some time
When the DraftKings Sportsbook at Foxwoods is complete, the centerpiece will be a spectacular 30-by-50 foot video wall.
But, right now, that video wall is in pieces on shipping containers off the coast of California.
“The permanent facility was supposed to open in two weeks, but cargo ships are backed up coming into California, and some of our materials are out there,” Butler said. “As soon as we know it’s shipped, we’ll lock up that date for launch.”
Butler said the new target date for the grand opening of the DraftKings Sportsbook is early November. Expect an extravaganza with some big names from the Boston sports scene in attendance.
“Between DraftKings and us, we have access to some incredible talent,” Butler said. “We’ll get some social media celebrities and some athletes and we’ll make it a big deal.”
Mohegan put a temporary FanDuel Sportsbook at a sports bar open to the gaming floor. The space isn’t small, with 41 sports betting kiosks and four betting windows.
Pineault believes Mohegan is on schedule to open the permanent FanDuel Sportsbook in early February prior to the Super Bowl. Though he acknowledged that supply chain issues could be an issue.
Delay in Massachusetts is Connecticut’s gain
Massachusetts appeared on its way to legalizing sports betting this year after the House passed legislation in July.
However, Senate President Karen Spilka threw ice water on those hopes this week by saying sports betting legislation was not a priority in the remaining months of the year.
Pineault couldn’t hide his elation with the foot-dragging in other states:
“I love it. I think that those sports wagerers who want to come down and bet on a Patriots game or bet on a Giants game that are in a state that is not currently permitting it, maybe we’ll get some extra business from it and we can develop that loyalty to keep them coming to Connecticut. The longer they delay it I think is beneficial to us, I can’t deny it.”