Goal Line In Sight: Connecticut Submits Draft Regulations For Online Gaming

Written By Derek Helling on August 25, 2021
Online Gaming Regulations Legislative Review

By the time the calendar turns to September, the necessary Connecticut online gaming regulations to launch regulated daily fantasy contests, online casinos and sports betting in the state later this year could be in place.

Late last week, the Connecticut Department of Consumer Protections submitted a draft of the rules to a committee of the state’s legislature.

Provided the committee ascents, this move makes the state’s gambling industry nearly ready to expand beyond its provisional DFS system and physical casinos.

It’s still uncertain exactly when that will happen, though.

Highlights of the Connecticut online gaming regulations

For gamblers in Connecticut, there are a few items in the rules worth noting. It’s important to remember, though, that these regulations are merely a draft. They did get the approval of Gov. Ned Lamont last week.

The first item of note is that the rules require operators of CT daily fantasy sports, online casinos and mobile betting apps to initiate a “soft launch period.” The regulations do not explicitly state a minimum or maximum duration of such a time frame. Additionally, the rules don’t state whether the operators have to cap the number of accounts, variety of games, etc.

It merely indicates the necessity of the period and that the license holder must submit a plan for the soft launch no fewer than 10 days before activation to the department. This is common protocol in new regulated gaming. It gives both operators and regulators a chance to ensure compliance before going fully live, avoiding having to try to “put the toothpaste back in the tube” by scaling back or taking down an online gaming platform after launch.

Operators will also have to submit their full menus of games and wagering options they would like to offer. This includes not only DFS and online slots titles but also:

  • Live dealer games
  • Peer-to-peer table games
  • Video poker

Proposed geofencing rules for online gambling

On page 16 of the rules, a section explicitly details geofencing in the state. Online gaming operators cannot accept wagers or paid entries from players who are either located outside of CT borders or if their locations cannot be determined by geolocation.

So, for example, if you browsed the markets on BetRivers Sportsbook, which will operate the sports betting app for the Connecticut Lottery, then left the state before actually placing your wager, BetRivers would block you from doing so until you returned. The same would go for the future DraftKings Casino, which would prevent you from actually betting on your blackjack play while you’re out of state.

Also of note is geofencing around the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan reservations. The rules refer to the gaming compacts and US Census maps to define those locations. While apps offered by the tribes and the lottery become available statewide, players must remain in those locations until wagers are accepted.

If you start placing a bet while on a reservation, you must remain on the reservation until completing the wager. You cannot initiate a bet on a reservation and then complete the transaction off tribal land.

What happens now, Connecticut?

A legislative committee hearing to potentially approve the rules is set for Aug. 31. If the committee gives an affirmative vote that day, then the enabling regulations would be in place at that point.

However, there is a significant legal step remaining. The new compacts between the state and both aforementioned tribal gaming entities still need federal approval. The state has submitted those, and the US Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Indian Affairs has until Sept. 10 to render a decision.

Approval could come sooner. That would be advantageous to most parties, too. An ideal situation would allow online sportsbooks in CT to capture as much action during the upcoming NFL season as possible.

However, a launch before or on Sept. 9, when the season begins, looks unlikely right now. Not only is the lottery still considering locations for its retail sportsbooks, but the state still needs to conduct those soft launch periods.

Photo by AP / Corey Sipkin
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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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