While there still a few t’s to cross and i’s to dot, it looks like Connecticut online and retail sportsbooks should get across the legislative finish line in 2021.
If the proposed tribal compact and associated legislation do end up as state law, it will set up three online sportsbook licenses as well as retail sportsbook licenses divided between Foxwoods, Mohegan Sun, and the Connecticut Lottery.
Here’s a look at where the legislation stands, what Connecticut sports betting could look like, the key sportsbook operators involved, and a rundown of what brands you might see launch online betting apps in the state.
Last updated: July 23, 2021
We could be just days away from learning who the Connecticut Lottery selected as its legal sports betting partner.
At the beginning of last week, the CT Lottery confirmed with PlayCT that it had indeed chosen its sports betting provider. However, the lottery also said it would wait to announce its news until both parties completed negotiations.
We may not know exactly which operate the lottery selected. But we do know it was not any operator with a casino brand, such as BetMGM and Caesars. State law prohibits such affiliation.
The law permits the Connecticut Lottery to launch a mobile betting app, similar to Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods Resort Casino. The CT Lottery is also authorized to open as many as 15 retails sportsbooks throughout the state.
The Connecticut Lottery has made selected its sports betting partner, but it won’t announce the choice for a few weeks. Who could it be?
A FanDuel Sportsbook Connecticut is on the way assuming regulatory approval along with a new Mohegan online casino powered by FanDuel as well.
ESPN is reportedly “all-in” on launching a sports betting operation. But its home state of Connecticut might be off the table.
Gambling in Connecticut is split between two entities: tribal casinos and the Connecticut Lottery. The Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation operates Foxwoods Casino, while The Mohegan Tribe operates Mohegan Sun Casino.
The two tribes have exclusivity over casino gambling in the state. Meanwhile, the Connecticut Lottery handles draw games, scratch-offs, and Keno.
That division could change though. The proposed plan for sports betting grants three online sports betting licenses for Foxwoods, Mohegan Sun, and the lottery. The two casinos can also operate retail casinos on property.
Additionally, the tribes can pursue a casino in Bridgeport, but also have to cease developing a casino in East Windsor.
The Lottery also gets licenses to run 15 retail sportsbook locations around the state. While it hasn’t been explicitly stated, it seems like those retail locations will be at the 14 Sportech-owned off-track betting parlors.
The proposed tax rate for sports betting will be 13.75% on revenue.
Here is a look at what needs to happen in order for Connecticut bettors to be able to download and start using an online sports betting app:
It’s a lot to get done, but the hope is it will happen by the end of the year so at least part of the NFL season is available to bet on.
With three online licenses up for grabs, there are only going to be so many players in the state. One of them is already known, as DraftKings and the Mashantucket Pequot announced a partnership in December 2020. Mohegan Sun also has a strategic alliance with Kambi, but that still leaves a couple of brand options for them to choose from. Here’s a look at the three license holders, followed by possible partners for Mohegan and the lottery:
The December deal between the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation and Foxwoods described the partnership as “multi-channel” since it includes both sports betting and daily fantasy sports (DFS). What it does not mention is whether online casino or poker is included in the deal.
Given DraftKings Sportsbook is based out of Boston, it is no surprise the company prioritized getting into neighboring Connecticut. Foxwoods has long been a destination for Boston gamblers, so the partnership is a natural fit.
The other major tribal casino, Mohegan Sun, has not formally announced plans for their sports betting brand. The company does have a relationship with platform and odds provider Kambi, whose other partners include Unibet, Rush Street Interactive, and Parx.
Mohegan Sun Pocono in Pennsylvania already works with Unibet, so that is the brand that, at least for now, seems to make the most sense unless Mohegan Sun elects to just create a sportsbook with its own brand.
The lottery is already a good way through the selection process for a sports betting partner. The organization issued a request for proposals (RFP) in April. In the span of 11 days, the lottery received 15 applications.
It is possible the Connecticut Lottery uses the other group in the state currently offering gambling, which is Sportech off-track betting facilities. While it seems likely those OTB parlors will work with the lottery on retail locations, the online sportsbook candidates are probably offering the lottery much more persuasive proposals.
The Lottery stated that it will pick a partner by May 17.
Unibet is a smaller player in the US sports betting space, but it does have a strong presence on the East Coast. Additionally, the sportsbook has a connection to the Mohegan Tribe through Mohegan Sun Pocono Casino in Pennsylvania. Unibet is the sportsbook provider for that property as well as its online casino partner. Given Mohegan’s relationship with Kambi, this smaller brand could be a big player in CT.
One of the two major players in US sports betting, FanDuel has made it a point to be in every state that it possibly can. Connecticut should be no exception. It likely offered the Connecticut Lottery one of the more enticing proposals for partnership.
When it comes to Connecticut, MGM still has a little bad blood with the casino operator.
MGM battled against both the Mashantucket Pequot and the Mohegan over a proposed tribal casino in Bridgeport. The fight went on for many months and got very contentious. While the CT Lottery was not involved in the fight, it does color how MGM is perceived by some people in the state.
However, there is still the lottery’s license, which could be a good landing place for BetMGM.
Another possibility for Mohegan via its Kambi deal is for Mohegan Sun to work with BetRivers. Rivers has casinos in Illinois, New York, and Pennsylvania. The group’s in-house online gambling unit, Rush Street Interactive, developed BetRivers Sportsbook in tandem with Kambi.
BetRivers is more of a regional brand vs a national brand, but given its properties and presence in New York and Pennsylvania, it would make sense that the company would want into Connecticut as well.
With the recently completed acquisition of William Hill, it seems like Caesars is trying to ramp up and compete with the big three brands. That would suggest the company is going to try and get into Connecticut.
However, the company is also in a serious state of flux as it transitions the existing William Hill betting app brand over to something with the Caesars name. Moreover, the company is still trying to tie a fully integrated platform for casino games, online poker, and sports betting together. With so much going on, maybe the company passes on Connecticut sports betting and focuses on getting the casino and poker products in the state instead.
Given its Boston roots, it would make sense that one of the newer sportsbooks, Barstool Sportsbook, would want into Connecticut. Penn National Gaming is Barstool’s parent company. While Penn has casinos and partnerships in many states, Connecticut is not one of them.
Given the divisive attitude behind the brand, it may be a trickier sell for the Connecticut Lottery to partner with a group that, on its best day, is polarizing.