Connecticut Sports Betting at Retail Sportsbooks Nears as Online Rollout Continues

Carmen Mandato / Getty Images. Pictured: Paige Bueckers

Connecticut’s first legal retail sportsbooks cleared the final major regulatory hurdle Wednesday, allowing in-person betting to begin in the coming days. On Wednesday state officials also reaffirmed the state’s online sports betting launch is still several weeks away.

The DraftKings sportsbook at Foxwoods Resort Casino and the FanDuel sportsbook at Mohegan Sun were formally approved by federal regulators Wednesday when a renewed gaming compact between the state and the two partnering tribes was published in the Federal Registrar.

Though state officials, as well as the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes, were notified of their approval last week, the gaming compacts, by law, were not officially approved until Wednesday’s publication.

The two massive casino resorts have spent months preparing in-person sportsbooks. Though there are several final steps before wagering can begin, casino officials told the Action Network last month that the sportsbooks would be ready soon after formal federal approval.

As of publication Wednesday, it was unclear if either sportsbook would open ahead of this week’s NFL Week 2 games.

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Online Sports Betting Work Continues

The two tribal-operated retail sportsbooks are regulated separately from their respective online sportsbooks. Connecticut regulators told the Action Network last week the online process will take several more weeks.

Department of Consumer Protection Commissioner Michelle Seagull, whose department will oversee the state’s online sportsbooks, told a Connecticut radio station Wednesday that regulators still needed to conduct background checks and license each operator, among other standard regulatory measures.

“We’re going to take look at some of the internal controls of the businesses, understand how they plan to operate and what internally they’re going to be doing to make sure we’re comfortable with how they’ll operate,” Seagull told Bloomfield, Connecticut-based WDRC.

Each sportsbook must also pass independent laboratory inspection and testing, a common regulatory move that nevertheless prolongs the rollout process. Seagull also said there would be a multi-day “soft” launch to allow operators to test out their mobile sportsbooks before a full-scale launch in October.

Though Gov. Ned Lamont signed a sweeping online gaming bill that allows online sports betting, casino gaming and lottery sales into law in May, existing state law requires follow-up regulations before any new gaming form can begin. State regulators had to write these regulations and have them approved by lawmakers, a process that concluded late last month.

The online gaming aspects are independent from the two tribes’ retail sportsbook agreements, which are governed by federal law. The federal government didn’t formally sign off on the new compact between Lamont and the two tribes until Wednesday, delaying the retail betting launch as well.

“A lot of the steps that need to happen have occurred,” Seagull said. “We’re sort of in the home stretch here.”

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Sports Betting Details

Along with DraftKings and FanDuel, Rush Steet Interactive will also offer statewide mobile sports betting. Rush Street earned the state’s third and final license through a partnership with the state lottery. The company will likely brand its sportsbook under its SugarHouse name.

DraftKings and FanDuel, in conjunction with their respective tribal partners, can offer statewide mobile iGaming such as table games and slots, unlike the lottery-partnered Rush Street operation. However, Rush Street can open up to 15 retail sportsbooks across the state, several of which will be at Connecticut off-track betting facilities.

The lottery is also considering a sportsbook at Hartford’s XL Center, though no deal has been finalized. If approved, it would be one of the nation’s first in-stadium retail sportsbooks and the first at a sporting venue that doesn’t host a full-time NFL, NBA, MLB or NHL team.

Though Connecticut permits only three statewide mobile sportsbooks, it will still have more than the rest of New England combined. Rhode Island (Caesars) and New Hampshire (DraftKings) are de facto monopolies and Massachusetts, Maine and Vermont have not yet legalized online or retail sports betting.

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