Connecticut is the best example in US gambling of quality over quantity.
A small state, Connecticut has limited its exposure to gambling to two tribal casinos. Fortunately, for Connecticut residents and visitors, the two casinos are some of the biggest and best in the entire country — Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods.
Even more promisingly, Connecticut recently approved a third license for a new tribal casino to be built, owned and operated jointly by the two tribes that own Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods.
Online gambling is, in a word, coming. There is simply too much rumbling at the legislative level and in the commercial gambling operations in the state to think otherwise.
The legislation that will create a third casino in the state included language instructing the consumer protection department to establish a regulatory framework for sports betting, which may or may not include daily fantasy sports (DFS) betting.
A second bill is also in the legislature that explicitly legalizes DFS in Connecticut. The situation is promising enough that both FanDuel and DraftKings are active in the state right now.
There is also some positive activity on the online casino front, although not legislatively just yet. The Mashantucket Pequot Tribe, which owns Foxwoods, recently announced a partnership with the venture capital firm Victory Square Ventures to create the Foxwoods and Victory Square Ventures Living Lab. The lab’s purpose is to devise innovative gambling technology. It is only reasonable to assume that this venture will also address the online market.
Online gambling operators
|FanDuel||Daily fantasy sports|
|DraftKings||Daily fantasy sports|
|Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation*||Online casino|
*Likely – social casino operator only at this time
Social casino options
Both Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun have homegrown social casinos available on their websites. Mohegan Sun’s offering is part of the Play4Fun network, which hosts several casinos across the country facilitating free social play.
The casino offers only slot play to members. Alongside the basic slot play that has multiple reels, the branded slot machines offered in the casino can also be found. This allows players to sample the bonus structures and games they’ll see when they visit Mohegan Sun in real life and play for real money.
The Foxwoods site goes a step further and has the same approach as MyVegas, MGM’s social casino. Playing the Foxwoods site via Facebook, desktop or mobile device can translate into free play and bonus wagers at Foxwoods, gas cards or gift cards to Tanger Outlets. This type of site also lends itself well to a natural partnership with any real-money casino sites yet to come.
All of the other typical social casino options are available. As mentioned, MyVegas is the MGM site that offers a similar comp structure to that of Foxwoods Online. The comps offered are mostly redeemable in Las Vegas properties. Resorts World Casino New York and Borgata also have partnerships with MyVegas and are not far from Connecticut (particularly the New York location).
Otherwise, Zynga, Slotomania, Double Down Casino and Big Fish can all be accessed through Facebook or mobile devices in Connecticut.
Connecticut residents who’d prefer to play for fun have a wealth of options.
State casino operator history
Connecticut is first and foremost aided by its unique combination of geography and financial ability.
It has the highest per capita income of any state. For decades, Connecticut has been a desirable escape for wealthy New Yorkers. Even Hartford, deep into the state, is a mere two-hour drive from the largest city in the US.
Connecticut is also the third smallest state, which means its two casinos are both accessible to almost all residents without too much driving. The drives from New York City, Boston, and Providence are not bad either. This means Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun have an excellent ability to sustain and grow their customer bases.
As a result, both casinos are well-renowned for their properties and selections of amenities. Of the two, the most prominent is Foxwoods.
It’s located in Mashantucket and is owned by the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation. For many years (until it was overtaken by Winstar in Oklahoma), Foxwoods was the largest casino in the world.
Its list of amenities almost defies logic. There are four separate hotels at Foxwoods, each reputed to be AAA Four Diamond-certified. Additionally, the casino owns a fifth, the Tall Trees Inn, that is only minutes away and is accessible via shuttle.
There are 35 restaurants at Foxwoods, offering 18 different types of cuisines to patrons. The entire Tanger Outlet Mall is on the property, along with several high-end luxury boutiques. Foxwoods also offers a myriad shows, covering every genre, from comedy to magic to music. Of course, there is also a golf course, spa, pool and other activities for the whole family.
Of course, Mohegan Sun has to live in the shadow of all this extravagance. In a different state, Mohegan Sun would almost certainly be the crown jewel.
Mohegan Sun is owned by the Mohegan Indian Tribe, is located in Uncasville, CT. Its offerings are numerous in their own right: 5,000 slot machines and 300 table games await players. The casino claims more dining options than Foxwoods, which include a whopping 47 different places to find a bite to eat. There are also 37 shopping locations for customers at Mohegan Sun. The casino’s hotel has two massive towers with thousands of rooms.
In short, Mohegan Sun is nothing to scoff at. The casino’s yearly revenue hovers around $1.2 billion, although its overhead eats the profits significantly. The recession and massive regional competition (casino construction exploded in the last decade in New England) saw both Connecticut casinos deeply in debt.
However, with so much churn in its business, it is unlikely either casino is going anywhere, and the two tribes are not exactly competing with one another at this point, particularly in light of recent events.
State lawmakers approved a new joint venture for a third casino June 7. Both of Connecticut’s casinos are to be joint owners of this property. The property will be built in East Windsor, located in the north central part of the state. The idea behind the legislation is to build a casino to compete with a new MGM property being constructed over the border in Springfield, MA. The bottom line is that regional competition is forcing the hand of the legislature, and the winners will be any Connecticut residents or visitors hungry for other options in the state.
There are also options for off-track betting (OTB). As part of the new legislation, the number of OTB parlors is set to increase from 16 to 24 in the state. Below are the particulars for the two casinos in Connecticut.
|Foxwoods Resort Casino||Mashantucket||S, P, BI, K, OTB, BJ, R, C, B, PGP, 3C, PGT, LR, CS, C4, UTH, CW, MW, S21|
|Mohegan Sun Casino||Uncasville||S, P, OTB, B, MBac, BJ, CS, C, 4C, LR, PGP, PGT, R, SB, S21, THB, 3C, WF, MS|
*Slots (S), Craps (C), Blackjack (BJ), Roulette (R), Baccarat (B), Poker (P), Mini-Baccarat (MBac), Pai Gow Poker (PGP), Pai Gow Tiles (PGT), Let It Ride (LR), Caribbean Stud Poker (CS), Crazy 4 Poker (C4), 3 Card Poker (3C), 4 Card Poker (4C), Ultimate Texas Hold’em (UTH), High Card Flush (HCF), Mississippi Stud (MS), Texas Hold’em Bonus (THB), Big Six Wheel (B6), Bingo (BI), Keno (K), Off-track Betting (OTB), Casino War (CW), Money Wheel (MW), Spanish 21 (S21), Sic Bo (SB), Wheel of Fortune (WF)
State legal environment
|Permitted/Offered?||Notes & Restrictions|
|Land-based Gambling||Yes||Two massive tribal casinos|
|Online Gambling||Partially||Legislation pending for DFS and sports betting|
|Lottery||Yes||In-state and multi-state drawings|
|Charitable or House-based Gambling||Yes||Bazaars, bingo, raffles, and sealed ticket sales permitted|
|Minimum Gambling Age||21 for casinos, 18 for lottery, OTB and charitable gaming|