The Connecticut Lottery has found its legal sports betting partner.
Chairman Rob Simmelkjaer confirmed with PlayCT that the lottery has settled on its operator of choice. However, the CT Lottery is negotiating terms with its selection and expects to wait two weeks before making a formal announcement.
That said, although the choice has been made, which operator it is remains a bit of a mystery. Still, because of how the law reads, we can narrow the list of contenders.
BetMGM, Caesars out as CT Lottery partners
Heading into the lottery’s process of selecting a sports betting partner, it seemed several brands had the inside track. Especially after DraftKings CT and FanDuel CT landed their market access agreements with the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation and Mohegan Tribe, respectively.
In theory, this left the likes of BetMGM, Caesars and even BetRivers and WynnBET as possible lottery partners. A closer look at the law legalizing CT sports betting, however, reveals which brands with which the lottery cannot partner.
The lottery may align with a gaming operator provided:
“Such skin is not branded along with an entity or brand that operates a physical casino in any jurisdiction.”
This distinction, found at the top of page 14 of the 65-page bill authorizing regulated wagering, immediately eliminated those aforementioned contenders. Caesars, MGM, Rivers and Wynn share brands with brick-and-mortar casinos in other states. As a result, the CT Lottery cannot partner with them.
Who’s left to partner with for CT sports betting?
Certainly, the law precluded some well-established sports betting brands from getting in on the Connecticut ground floor.
However, that does not mean there are no more quality operators available.
Nearby Pennsylvania and New Jersey alone offer some mobile sportsbook possibilities for Connecticut.
PointsBet, Barstool looking to expand
For example, PointsBet has become a unique fixture in the ever-expanding world of regulated wagering in the US. The Australian company has taken its signature product, which offers a twist on the standard spread bet, to six states already and is no doubt looking for other markets in which to launch.
Another trending brand is Barstool Sports, which is live in three states, has plans to launch in Indiana and New Jersey, and has targeted “three or four states” after that, according to an earnings call earlier this year for Penn National Gaming, which owns Barstool.
While Penn National does own physical casinos in other jurisdictions, the Barstool brand does not. Rather, it only operates in a brick-and-mortar, which Connecticut law allows.
“The corporation may contract with an entity that operates in a physical casino in any jurisdiction.”
As a side note, there is another distinction within the law for operators such as Barstool. If the lottery does partner with an entity owned by an operator of a physical casino, “the entity may not utilize any patron information collected as a result of such contractual agreement with such operator for purposes of marketing or any other purposes related to acquiring patrons.” In other words, no tapping into existing customer databases.
Don’t forget about FOX Bet, theScore, 888 and TwinSpires
The Connecticut Lottery could also partner with brands such as FOX Bet. That said, the sportsbook falls under the ownership of Flutter, which also has FanDuel in its portfolio. Having two competing brands in the state might not be in the best interest of the overarching company. Especially after Flutter CEO Peter Jackson noted in an earnings call this year that FOX Bet “is struggling.”
Among others, that leaves the likes of theScore, 888 and TwinSpires (formerly known as BetAmerica), all of which have sportsbooks up and running in the northeast.
So, too, does William Hill. However, while the longstanding bookmaker has a physical and mobile presence in 12 states across the country, Caesars finalized its acquisition of the brand this year and intends to phase it out and replace it with the Caesars brand.
Certainly there are still a number of sports betting operators whom the Connecticut Lottery has selected as its partner. We won’t know for sure which brand it went with until a formal announcement in a few weeks.
At the very least, we now know which brands the lottery did not choose. And we can continue speculating with the existing list of possible partners.