Sports betting is not yet legal in Connecticut, but it could be in the near future.
In 2017, lawmakers in Connecticut passed a gambling package that did not legalize sports betting in the state, but it did set the stage for the possibility of legalizing it. The package included a provision that charged the state’s Commissioner of Consumer Protection “to regulate wagering on sporting events to the extent permitted by state and federal law.”
Then came May 2018, when a US Supreme Court ruling lifted the federal prohibition against states other than Nevada being able to offer sports betting. Many states quickly jumped in to legalize sports betting, and suddenly Connecticut was in a position to do so as well.
Since the US Supreme Court ruling, both the House and Senate in Connecticut have been considering different sports betting bills, though nothing has passed yet. One topic of debate has been whether to restrict sports betting to the state’s Native American tribes, or to allow commercial establishments to offer sports betting as well. Lawmakers are also weighing whether to allow online sports betting in addition to retail sportsbooks.
Once a bill passes both houses and the governor signs it into law, then the state’s regulators can get to work and ready the state for the launch of sports betting.
Here’s an overview of sports betting in Connecticut, including where it stands at present and what it will likely look like once it finally arrives.
Shortly after the US Supreme Court’s 2018 ruling, there was hope Connecticut might be among the first wave of states to launch sports betting. However that did not come to pass, and when the legislative session adjourned in May 2020, lawmakers had yet to come together over specific sports betting legislation.
Sports betting certainly has support in the state, with each legislative session having seen multiple hearings on the topic. Various stakeholders, including those representing the tribes, commercial interests, and the professional sports leagues, have given testimony at these hearings in order to help inform legislators.
Some like Gov. Ned Lamont would prefer lawmakers refrain from adding other forms of gambling, specifically online gambling, to any sports betting bills.
Given the time needed to finalize regulations after any sports betting legislation is passed, it is unlikely sports betting will launch in Connecticut until 2021 at the earliest, and perhaps not until 2022.
Connecticut is like many other states in that it permits certain kinds of gambling though it’s fairly restrictive when it comes to casino gambling.
Betting on horse racing and greyhound racing is legal in the state. That includes off-track betting offered at a variety of brick-and-mortar locations as well as online.
Betting on jai alai is also allowed in the state, as are certain forms of charitable and social gambling. The Connecticut Lottery has also been up and running since the early 1970s, although lottery tickets must be purchased in person at licensed retailers, not online.
Daily fantasy sports is also allowed in Connecticut, with DFS sites like DraftKings, FanDuel and others all serving CT players. In fact, Connecticut is one of the states where DFS has been made explicitly legal after Gov. Dannel Malloy signed a budget bill into law in 2017 that included provisions to license and regulate DFS.
Meanwhile casinos are only allowed on tribal land in Connecticut, and at present there are only two in operation in the state: the Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville and the Foxwoods Resort Casino in Mashantucket.
The state’s two casinos both opened in the 1990s. Both are popular not just among Connecticut residents but those traveling from bordering states New York (to the west), Massachusetts (north) and Rhode Island (east).
The Mohegan Tribe operates the Mohegan Sun, a large casino located near the Thames River in Uncasville. The Foxwoods Resort Casino is on the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation reservation near Ledyard, and it is even larger. In fact, Foxwoods isn’t just one casino, but six separate casinos linked together as a sprawling resort.
Both the Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods feature Vegas-style casino games. These include blackjack, craps, roulette, baccarat, keno, poker and thousands of slot machines.
The Mohegan and Mashantucket Pequot tribes have been pursuing opening a jointly operated third Connecticut casino in East Windsor. Legislation passed in 2017 authorized the building of a third casino, and in 2019 the tribes received federal approval to do so. However MGM Resorts International, which operates MGM Springfield just over the border in Massachusetts, continues to fight against the tribes’ plans in federal court.
Incidentally, the Mohegan Sun actually has an online casino already, just not in Connecticut. Thanks to a partnership with Resorts Casino Hotel in Atlantic City, the Mohegan Sun Online Casino has been operating in New Jersey since 2015.
In any event, any sports betting in Connecticut will necessarily begin with the tribes, given the primacy of the casinos in the state’s current gambling landscape. Indeed, current compacts with the tribes would need to be amended, no matter what type of sports betting Connecticut chooses to introduce.
It remains to be seen exactly what lawmakers ultimately agree upon when it comes to sports betting in Connecticut.
The bills that have been proposed to this point all include the state’s two tribal casinos as potential operators. Indeed, there is zero chance of any sort of sports betting happening in Connecticut that does not involve the tribes.
The sports betting law will no doubt provide for sportsbooks to open at both the Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods casinos. The law could potentially allow commercial gambling establishments to apply for sports betting licenses as well, including the state lottery and even operators of off-track betting like Sportech.
Lawmakers have proposed sports betting bills that would permit not just land-based sportsbooks but online sportsbooks to operate in Connecticut as well.
Online sportsbooks have thrived in other states. In most cases, online sites have been responsible for the great majority of sports betting revenue. In states where it is legal, online sports betting often accounts for more than 80% of the sports betting revenue. Depending on the legislation, multiple technology providers and operators could be allowed into Connecticut to run online sportsbooks.
Brands seeking access to the Connecticut online sports betting market could potentially include several already established elsewhere in the US, including:
Most states with legal sports betting provide a full array of options for bettors. These include all of the popular American sports, as well as some with followings in Europe and elsewhere.
Typically the following sports are among the ones on which betters can place wagers:
Some states such as Nevada include in their regulations the possibility to bet on esports. Others like New Jersey, Indiana and most recently Colorado online sportsbooks also permit the ability to wager on events like the Academy Awards.
It seems unlikely Connecticut will be eager to include these nontraditional options within the menu of wagering opportunities for sports bettors.
Connecticut has a WNBA franchise, the Connecticut Sun. In fact, the Sun play their home games at the Mohegan Sun Arena, which might provide the parameters for a logical partnership when sports betting launches in the state.
Connecticut also has a National Lacrosse League franchise, the New England Black Wolves, that also plays home games in Uncasville at the Mohegan Sun Arena. In early 2020 the National Lacrosse League inked a deal with BetMGM to make the operator the official gaming partner for the league, so we may soon start seeing lacrosse turn up more often in online sportsbooks.
Fans of other professional sports teams from nearby states like Massachusetts, New York and Pennsylvania also live in Connecticut. Many sports fans in Connecticut root for the Boston-area franchises like the New England Patriots (NFL), the Boston Celtics (NBA), the Boston Red Sox (MLB) and the Boston Bruins (NHL).
Some states have included within their sports betting laws restrictions against betting on the state’s collegiate sports teams. Those states either prohibit it entirely or don’t allow certain forms of betting on college sports such as in-game betting. However, most states do allow bettors to wager on college sports just as they can professional sports.
When it comes to sports, the Connecticut Huskies — aka UConn — are the most popular Division I school in the state. The school’s men’s and women’s basketball programs in particular are popular, with many national titles between them. UConn is the only Connecticut school with a football program competing in the NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS).
The Fairfield Stags, Central Connecticut Blue Devils and Yale Bulldogs also have followings in the state.
Horse racing has a long history in Connecticut. However, there are no live horse racing tracks in operation in the state at present.
Live greyhound racing began in Connecticut in 1976. The Plainfield Greyhound Park opened that year and quickly became a favorite destination for bettors. However, after the casinos opened in the 1990s its popularity declined, and it closed in 2005.
In 1995 a second dog racing track, the Shoreline Star Greyhound Park, opened in Bridgeport. It enjoyed a period of popularity as well as a place for betting on greyhound races and jai alai simulcasts. But Shoreline also closed in 2006. Thus while betting on dog racing remains legal in Connecticut, there are no live tracks in the state.
Those wishing to bet on either horse racing or greyhound racing are still able to do so in Connecticut via off-track betting (OTB). This type of pari-mutuel betting became legal in 1976. OTB was originally run by the Division of Special Revenue. Then in 1993 it was sold to Autotote Enterprises, which continues to operate OTB in the state.
There are currently 15 OTB parlors scattered throughout the state, all operated by Sportech. Bettors can visit the OTB locations or bet online via Sportech’s MyWinners.com site. The site offers legal betting on thoroughbred, harness and greyhound races as well as on jai-alai.
Popular out-of-state OTB operators like TVG, BetAmerica and TwinSpires also accept customers from Connecticut. They also offer CT bettors the ability to bet on both horse racing and greyhound racing.
There are a wide variety of bet types available to sports bettors, including:
In Connecticut, the minimum age to gamble in a casino is 21 years old. The minimum for playing the state lottery or for off-track betting is 18 years old.
It is likely that 21 will be the minimum for legal sports betting in the state.
Online sports betting operators provide a number of ways to deposit funds into an account. Sometimes the laws will identify particular methods as allowed and rule out others. The online sportsbook site will always outline its available banking methods.
Online sportsbooks in the US commonly allow some or all of the following options to deposit:
The cash option usually involves visiting the cashier cage at the casino affiliated with the online sportsbook.
When depositing to an online sportsbook, always be on the lookout for deposit bonuses. Especially when first opening an account and making an initial deposit, most online sportsbooks offer bonuses that are worth claiming. Sometimes you’ll need to enter a bonus code when making the deposit in order to receive the bonus.
Online sportsbooks usually offer multiple options for withdrawing funds as well. Often there are fewer withdrawal options available than there are depositing options.
You generally cannot withdraw funds using credit or debit cards, or via other services like PayNearMe. You can, however, often make withdrawals via PayPal and via other payment processors. Receiving a physical check often is an option, although it might take a few days to receive funds.
Sometimes it is possible to withdraw using bank transfers and e-checks, although it depends on the financial institution. Withdrawing cash from the casino cage is always an option as well, for online sportsbooks that partner with casinos.
The best bet is often to find out what withdrawal options are available, then use the same method for depositing. That is often the simplest and fastest banking solution — to use the same method both for depositing and withdrawing.
The Gaming Division of the Department of Consumer Protection regulates all legal gambling in Connecticut.
The DCP will be the entity that regulates sports betting whenever it launches in the state. Lawmakers in the state passed a bill in 2017 instructing the Commissioner of Consumer Protection to establish a regulatory structure for sports betting should it be legalized.