Connecticut Sets October 7, 2021 as Launch Date for Legal Sports Betting

Odds Board and Money
It may not have launched at its original target date but it’s not too late either.

Supporters of Connecticut spots betting wanted to launch earlier this month, or before the start of the NFL season. That did not happen. Instead, legal sports betting in the Constitution State will officially begin on October 7th. With the NFL adopting a 17-game regular season this year, there’s still plenty of football action to bet on.

In an interview with a local television network on Thursday, Paul Mounds, the Chief of Staff to CT Gov. Ned Lamont said:

“We are now focused on October 7, which is Thursday, which will be the full launch of online betting here in the state of Connecticut.”

State’s Revised Gaming Compacts Approved Last Week

One week ago, Gov. Lamont announced that the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs has approved the state’s revised gaming compacts with the Mohegan and Mashantucket Pequot Tribes. The approval paved the way for the Department of Consumer Protection to begin with the licensing and certification process needed before the launch.

The Tribes and the Connecticut Lottery have been working double time with their respective sports betting partners since last week but until today, no firm timetable was issued. Launching on October 7th means that Connecticut sports betting will be up and running when the betting for week 5 of the 2021 NFL season begins.

Sports Betting and iCasino Gaming

DraftKings, FanDuel, and Rush Street Interactive will all operate their respective platforms in the state. DraftKings has entered into a partnership with Foxwoods Casino while FanDuel has paired with the Mohegan Sun. Both are licensed to operate online sports betting and iCasino products. RSI meanwhile, will offer sports betting only.

The Mashantucket Pequot Tribe is building a retail DraftKings sportsbook at the Foxwoods Casino which will open in October. FanDuel is also planning to put up a brick and mortar shop at the Mohegan Sun. Meanwhile, the Connecticut Lottery awarded Sportstech a contract to operate 10 out of their allowed 15 retails sports betting shops in the state.

Feds Approve Sports Betting and Online Gaming in Connecticut

Odds Board and Money
The Federal Government has signed off on the plans for the legalization of sports betting and online gaming in the state of Connecticut.

According to Gov. Ned Lamont on Thursday, the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs of the Department of Interior informed him that the gaming compacts between the state and the Mohegan Tribe and Mashantucket Peqout Tribe have been approved.

Said Lamont via Twitter:

“I just received a call from @USIndianAffairs informing me that they have given final approval to the revised gaming compacts between the State of Connecticut and the Mohegan and Mashantucket Pequot Tribes, allowing for sports wagering and online gaming. This critical step in the process of modernizing our gaming landscape here in Connecticut ensures that our state will have a competitive, nation-leading marketplace for wagering both in-person and online.”

“I thank @USIndianAffairs for approving these revisions, as well as the efforts of the Mohegan and Mashantucket Pequot Tribes. Today’s announcement puts CT on the cusp of providing a modern, technologically advanced gaming experience competitive with our neighboring states.”

Waiting to Be Published in the Federal Register

Earlier this year, the Connecticut General Assembly passed the legislation to legalize sports betting and online gambling in the state, which Lamont signed into a law. The law allows only the Connecticut Lottery Corporation and the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan Tribes to conduct online and in-person sports wagering.

Thursday was the deadline for the Department of Interior to approve the compacts. While they are approved, they were not yet published in the Federal Register on Thursday and will only take effect once they are. Aside from that, the state’s Department of Consumer Protection still has to approve the vendors and suppliers that will be used by the operators.

Targeting October Launch

Once approval is secured, the operators will give the Department of Consumer Protection a 10-day notice of when they intend to go live. After that, there will be a seven-day soft launch where operations are monitored to iron out possible kinks. Once those tasks are complete, BetRivers ( Connecticut Lottery ), DraftKings( Mohegan Sun ), and FanDuel
( Foxwoods ) will be ready to launch, and according to sources, they will go live at the same time.

Back when the law was passed, supporters were hoping to launch on September 9th when the NFL’ opened its 2021 season. But since that has already passed and given the activities that still need to happen, the operators are looking to go live next month. The retail DraftKings sportsbooks at Foxwoods is also expected to open simultaneously with the launch of online sports betting while the Mohegan FanDuel brick and mortar sportsbook won’t be ready until winter.

FanDuel Joins Forces With Mohegan Gaming For Connecticut Online Sports Betting

Odds Board and Money
FanDuel gained access to the Connecticut sports betting market by partnering with the Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment on Wednesday.

The agreement, which is pending the required regulatory approvals, will bring retain and internet sports betting as well as iGaming and daily fantasy sports offering to the Mohegan Tribe’s flagship Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, Connecticut.

Said Ray Pineault, President & CEO of Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment.:

“We’re excited to work with FanDuel, one of the leading sports-tech entertainment companies in the U.S. to bring the brand’s innovative sports betting and iGaming solutions to Mohegan Sun Connecticut. Our partnership is a priority for Mohegan Digital, as we look to grow and enhance our casino, sportsbook and online operations in Connecticut – and beyond. We’re confident that FanDuel will deliver a best-in-class digital and in-person experience for our loyal guests.”

Temporary Retail FanDuel Sportsbook

Wednesday’s deal included the establishment of a temporary retail FanDuel sportsbook at the Mohegan Sun. The makeshift sportsbook will have four live-betting windows and 16 self-service betting terminals. A permanent retail shop at the casino grounds is expected to be completed during winter, pending approvals.

With the temporary shop, sports bettors and fans across the state can access FanDuel’s industry-leading online and mobile betting products. Additionally, FanDuel will provide an online casino experience under the Mohegan Sun brand and will also operate daily fantasy sports across the state.

Pending Approval of Tribal Contracts

Sports betting will not go live in Connecticut until the compact between the state and the tribe isn’t approved by the U.S. Department of the Interior. The approval could take as long as 135 days but as we saw with Arizona recently, which was approved within a month, it could be faster.

Connecticut’s recently passed sports betting law requires DFS operators to be tethered to an entity with a master sports wagering license. The country’s top two leading DFS companies received their provisional license last July 1st and FanDuel was quick to team up with the Mohegan group to position itself for the Connecticut launch.

Connecticut Sports Betting Bill Passes House on a 122-21 Vote

Odds Board and Money
Legal Connecticut sports betting may be coming very soon after the state House of Representatives approved on Thursday a long-awaited gambling agreement signed between Gov. Ned Lamont and the state’s two federally-recognized tribes.

The bill directs the Governor to amend the state’s compacts with the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes to allow both to offer legal Connecticut sports betting, online gambling, and online fantasy contests in exchange for a share of their gambling revenues.

With a vote of 122 to 21 in favor of the legislation, is now headed to the Senate. If, as expected, it passes the Senate, the amended agreements will then need federal approval.

Said Rep, Maria Horn, the co-chair of the Public Safety Committee in the house:

“This bill that we see tonight is the culmination of many, many years of work heading in many directions in Connecticut.”

Retail and Internet Sports Gambling in 15 locations

The agreement allows the State Lottery Corporation to offer online and retail Connecticut sports betting at 15 different locations, including two specifically located in Hartford and Bridgeport.

Tax rates for internet gambling will be a 18% of gross revenues for the first five years of operations, and 20% for the next five years, with an option to continue for another five years. Retail Connecticut sports betting and fantasy sports betting will be taxed at 13.75% of gross revenues.

Not Everyone is Pleased

But while the supporters of the Connecticut sports betting bill rejoiced, not everyone was pleased. East Windsor area lawmakers voted against the agreement which prevents the tribes from building a planned satellite casino in town to compete with the MGM casino in nearby Springfield during the first 10 years of the new agreement with the state.

Meanwhile, state-licensed parimutuel operator Sportech questioned the constitutionality of the agreement while expressing hope that it could reach a similar agreement with the state. According to Paul Mounds, the chief of staff of the governor, the deal allows the Lottery to sublicense the sports betting operations to Sportech.

Connecticut Lottery Says it Received 15 Applications for Sports Betting Licenses

Odds Board and Money
The Connecticut Lottery announced on Monday that it received a total of 15 applications for legal Connecticut sports betting in response to its Request for Qualifications sent earlier this month.

Said Connecticut Lottery Corporation chairman Rob Simmelkjaer:

“We are pleased to see significant interest from companies who would like to partner with the CLC to bring our online and retail sports betting offering to market. Our staff and board will now begin a process of carefully reviewing the qualifications of the submitting parties as we work towards choosing the right partner in this important initiative for our state.”

Chairman Simmelkjaer added that the Lottery will issue invitations for presentations for qualified applications after which they will choose finalists who will be required to submit formal business plans.

Deal with Mashantucket Pequot Tribe and Mohegan Tribe

Last month, Gov. Ned Lamont reached a deal with the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes that would pave the way for legal Connecticut sports betting hopefully before the start of the 2021 NFL season.

The agreement included an 18% tax rate on new online gaming for the first five years of operation and 20% tax rate for the next five years. Sports betting would be levied a tax rate of 13.5% according to a statement from the governor’s office.

The deal, which gives exclusive rights to the tribe and the Lottery to operate legal Connecticut sports betting, still has to get the approval of the State Legislature and the United States Department of the Interior.

Request for Qualifications

Last April 12th, the Connecticut Lottery sent out a Request for Qualifications package with an April 23 deadline. The solicitation was for “qualified and experienced sports betting solution providers for online and retail sports wagering systems and services.

Under the RFQ, two larger retail locations are envisioned for Hartford and Bridgeport while other locations may be withing existing off-track-betting (OTB) locations of the state’s current OTB operator, or may be coordinated within existing lottery-licensed locations.

The RFQ also predicts a tentative timeline between mid-May and mid-June for the signing of a contract with an operator with the systems to be developed and tested by summer. The expected launch of Connecticut sports betting is on September 6th.

Connecticut Governor Throws Support for State Sports Betting Bill

Odds Board and Money
Gov. Ned Lamont said last week that he is working on bringing sports betting and iGaming to Connecticut. Per Gov. Lamont, he has been talking to the state’s two tribal casino operators about adding sportsbooks and online gaming to their services.

Said Gov. Lamont about residents heading to nearby states to make sports bets:

“Connecticut should not leave these opportunities for other states to benefit from our inaction.”

Senate Bill 146

SB 146 would authorize the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe and the Mohegan Tribe of Indians to conduct both retail and online Connecticut sports betting on tribal land. The two tribes would also be allowed to run online casino businesses.

Furthermore, the bill proposes that the Connecticut Lottery Corporation to sell lottery game tickets and organize online keno games. The bill also states that the legalization of Connecticut sports betting, online gambling, as well as selling of game tickets and online keno games are subject to “new or amended agreements” with the Native American tribes.

If Senate Bill 146 is accepted, a reasonable set of procedures and data security standards for internet gaming need to be set-up. Likewise, Connecticut sports betting and online gambling will provide revenue to the state in the form of taxes.

Legalization Won’t Happen Overnight

Although the bill’s proposal has been filed, it doesn’t necessarily mean that legalization will happen overnight. The Connecticut General Assembly still has to vote on the bill during the 2021 legislative session, which will conclude on June 9th or four months for legislators to decide whether or not to approval legal Connecticut sports betting.

But COVID-19 has affected badly the revenues of Connecticut, as it has the other states in the U.S. Some lawmakers said last week that legal sports betting can help the state offset revenue losses and that could be enough to convince lawmakers to help pass the bill.

If passed, the bill won’t take effect until 2022, just in time for the fiscal year 2023. According to Democratic lawmakers in the state, if legal Connecticut sports betting goes as planned and the bill is passed, they could see an increase in annual revenues by $47.3M in 2023.