Sports betting is now legal and open for business in Connecticut.
In separate announcements, DraftKings and FanDuel said they opened temporary retail sportsbooks on Thursday at the tribal casinos where they have partnerships. Both operators said permanent facilities are in the final stages of construction.
DraftKings said its temporary sportsbook at the Foxwoods Resort Casino, which is owned and operated by the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation, is located at the Ultimate Race Book in Rainmaker Casino. Betting kiosks have also been set up at locations across the resort in Mashantucket, CT.
The operator said online sports betting and casino gaming within the state but outside of tribal lands is expected to launch in early October, pending regulatory approvals.
“Today we celebrate a new era for our Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation, sports fans, Foxwoods guests and Connecticut residents,” said Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Chairman Rodney Butler. “With NFL season in full force, it’s game on, and we look forward to a successful launch.”
Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont was on hand to help open the new temporary sportsbook on Thursday and placed the ceremonial first bet: a $20 wager for MLB’s New York Yankees to defeat the Toronto Blue Jays on Thursday night.
Meanwhile, FanDuel said it had opened a temporary sportsbook at the Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville on Thursday morning, with Lamont and others attending a ribbon cutting ceremony. The temporary sportsbook is located at the Bow & Arrow Sports Bar at the casino, which is owned and operated by the Mohegan Tribe.
Lamont, a Democrat, also placed a ceremonial first bet at the FanDuel sportsbook. It was a $50 wager that the WNBA’s Connecticut Sun would beat the 7.5-point spread against the Chicago Sky in a Thursday night matchup.
“This gaming expansion will bring jobs, excitement and other positive economic impacts to Mohegan Sun and across Connecticut, and we can’t wait to hit the ground running,” said Jeff Hamilton, president and general manager of Mohegan Sun.
Situated between the enormous markets of Boston and New York, Connecticut and the two tribes are hopeful that sports betting in the state will be an enormous success. Those hopes appeared to be on full display Thursday at the Mohegan Sun, where two former NFL players, Darius Butler and Wayne Chrebet, were on hand for the opening of FanDuel’s temporary retail sportsbook.
Chrebet placed a $20 moneyline bet that the New York Jets, the team he played on for 11 seasons, would beat the Tennessee Titans this weekend. Butler, who played college football at the University of Connecticut, placed a similar $20 moneyline wager that the New England Patriots would beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Butler played two seasons for the Patriots.
“It’s a different way to watch the game,” Butler told WTNH-TV in an interview Thursday. “It’s a different way to be into it and it’s legal now. It’s fun, it’s safe, you don’t have to go underground and do some sketchy things to place bets now. It’s good for the state, bringing in money that can be taxed.”
FanDuel said it hopes to have its permanent sportsbook facility at the casino completed this winter. The new sportsbook is being built at the former location of the Mohegan Sun Race Book.
The operator said it would provide additional details on online casino gaming, including an official launch date, in the near future.
According to reports, the Connecticut Lottery Corporation (CLC) plans to launch retail and online sports betting next week.
Legislation, federal approval prove pivotal
The launch of online sports betting and casino gaming in the Constitution State has been in the works for years but picked up steam in 2021.
Lamont signed legislation making online sports betting, poker and casino games legal on May 27. The state’s Department of Consumer Protection (CDCP) then drafted temporary regulations covering the gambling expansion, which were subsequently approved by the Connecticut Regulation Review Committee on August 31.
The expanded gaming regimen required the state to amend its gaming compacts with the two tribes. The amended compacts in turn required approval by the US Interior Department’s Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA). BIA approved the changes and had public notices to that effect published in the Federal Register this month.
Last week, the CDCP launched a statewide portal where consumers could voluntarily sign a self-exclusion list to make it more difficult for them to gamble.
DraftKings formed its partnership with the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation last December, while the Mohegan Tribe joined FanDuel in a similar partnership in July. The CLC tapped Rush Street Interactive (RSI) to be its online sports betting partner in August. RSI plans to launch a sportsbook in the state under its PlaySugarHouse brand.