Connecticut sports betting is coming, and it’s probably only months away. In fact, you can probably set your watch to a launch at the same moment or just before the first NFL game kicks off in 2021. Although the state has a long way to go in a short time vis-a-vis regulations, the desire not to miss out on the most feverish sports betting time of the year is likely strong enough to overcome any obstacles.
Connecticut has technically called sports betting legal since 2017. Like several other states, the Nutmeg State chose to legalize sports betting with the caveat that sports betting had to become legal at the federal level first. The legalization was part of a larger gaming expansion. Lo and behold, the US Supreme Court struck down the national ban the very next year, shoving the Connecticut law into effect in the process. However, lawmakers in Connecticut did not have all their ducks in a row, particularly with regard to the state’s two massive tribal casinos. Now that there are agreements in place between the Mashantucket Pequot (which owns Foxwoods Resort Casino) and the Mohegans, and the CT Legislature approved the bill formalizing the compacts, there are only a few things left to do. Not the least of which is putting the regulations and licensing structure in place for online sports betting in Connecticut.
For right now, the Connecticut Lottery Corporation (CLC) is considering the responses to a Request for Qualifications that it issued in April 2021. The latest reports indicate that the CLC has narrowed its list of potential providers from 15 to 4, but there’s no word about which four companies might still be in the running. The CLC has indicated that it expects to have some sort of regulatory authority over sports betting, but the Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection is named as the final authority in the current bill most likely to pass.
There’s a bit of a “cart before the horse” sensation to the way that the Nutmeg State is choosing to go about legalizing sports betting, but there have been no major hiccups so far. So, here’s what we know about sports betting’s imminent arrival in Connecticut.
UPDATED: July 12, 2021
The CT Lottery still has yet to reveal which company it will partner with for sports betting.
The Mohegan Tribe confirmed FanDuel as its new partner. The Mashantucket Pequot will use DraftKings as its betting partner. Mohegan Gaming made a surprise announcement by cutting ties with its gaming partner Kambi in favor of another sports betting operator.
There will only be three online skins (websites) available for customers in Connecticut.
The third and final sports betting operator will partner with the lottery to offer commercial sports betting in Connecticut.
Is sports betting legal in Connecticut?
Yes and no. The legal status of sports betting started in one of the weirder spots we’ve ever seen. In 2017, the state passed a package of gambling expansion bills that were largely unrelated to sports betting itself. Once the US Supreme Court struck down PASPA in 2018, Connecticut could move forward with its plans. However, it has taken some time to get to where we are today. Once Gov. Lamont signs the latest bill into law and the tribal compacts are approved at the federal level, legal sports betting can move forward in the state.
Given Lamont’s comments about seeing a launch by September 2021, it’s probably more of a question of when the Nutmeg State will get sports betting, not if.
When will sports betting launch in Connecticut?
Connecticut sports betting will launch, optimistically, in September 2021. Lamont has gone on record to say that he wants sports betting underway by the ninth month, presumably in order to take advantage of the 2021 NFL season. However, regulators and sportsbook companies have a long way to go before a launch can occur. A debut by the end of 2021 is probably a more realistic timeframe, but pressure from the boss (Lamont) might inspire faster movement.
One thing working in favor of forward progress, though, is the presence of agreements between the state and the two casino-owning tribes. Getting those three groups to shake hands had the potential to be a major sticking point, but despite some early hurt feelings on the matter, Lamont managed to get everyone on board in March 2021. Part of the deal reserved an online sportsbook skin for each tribe. The Connecticut Lottery is also set to get its own license. The RFQ that the CLC is conducting now is to award the fourth and final license to the most qualified candidate.
On the other hand, there really aren’t many formalized rules surrounding Connecticut sports betting at this point. The 2021 final bill authorizes Connecticut online casinos as part of the expansion, and despite the fact that the particulars have been hammered out between the tribes and the state, there are still several moving pieces to the puzzle. It’s just not clear if the Nutmeg State can make it happen within Lamont’s timeframe.
The background of Connecticut gambling law
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 CT 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.
Tribal gaming in Connecticut
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 begins with the tribes, given the primacy of the casinos in the state’s current gambling landscape.
Where will I be able to make legal sports bets in Connecticut?
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.
Retail sportsbooks in Connecticut
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.
Online sportsbooks in Connecticut
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:
What sports can I bet on in Connecticut?
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:
- Australian rules football
- Auto racing
- Mixed martial arts (MMA)
Some states such as Nevada include in their regulations the possibility to bet on esports. Others like New Jersey, Indiana and most recently Colorado 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.
Betting on pro sports teams from Connecticut
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).
Betting on college teams from Connecticut
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 and dog races are also legal to bet on in Connecticut
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. Originally, the Division of Special Revenue operated OTB in the state. Then, in 1993, the DSR sold the operations to Autotote Enterprises, which continues to run OTB in the state to this day.
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.
What types of sports bets can I make in Connecticut?
There are a wide variety of bet types available to sports bettors, including:
- Moneyline — the classic bet on a team or player to win.
- Spreads — a bet on a game’s outcome that takes into account the point spread; e.g., you bet on UConn, a four-point underdog (+4), and if UConn wins the game or loses it by fewer than four points, you win the bet.
- Totals — an “over/under” bet on the total points scored by both teams in a contest.
- Parlays — a single bet combining two or more bets; you need to be correct on each of the bets to win.
- Teasers — a parlay bet in which the bettor alters or “teases” the totals or spreads for one of the bets.
- Round robin — another parlay bet in which you don’t have to get all of your bets correct, but can still win a partial amount for getting some of them.
- Props — these are bets on outcomes unrelated to the game’s result, such as an individual player’s performance; e.g., an over/under bet on how many rushing yards a player will gain (also called “proposition bets”).
- Futures — a bet on an event or outcome that will be decided at a future date; e.g., a bet on which team will win the Super Bowl at the end of the season.
- In-game betting — also called “live betting,” in-game betting involves betting on outcomes of particular plays or other results as the game is in progress, such as on whether the next play will result in a completed pass; live bets also include pre-game wagers, like moneylines and spreads. However, the odds adjust according to where things stand at the moment of the bet.
What is the minimum age for sports betting in Connecticut?
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.
How do I deposit money into an online sports betting account?
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:
- Credit or debit cards
- Prepaid cards
- Check or money order
- Bank wire transfer or e-check/ACH
- Payment processors (e.g., PayPal, Skrill, Neteller)
- Cash at the casino cage
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.
Who will regulate Connecticut sports betting?
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 instructed the Commissioner of Consumer Protection to establish a regulatory structure for sports betting in 2017. Of course, that instruction came with a caveat. Sports betting could not proceed without getting rid of the federal ban.