Connecticut joins the list of states that has its doors wide open to the sports betting industry, but can't get its regulatory framework and other issues in order to make it happen.
Spurred by rapid sports betting legalization in neighboring states like Rhode Island, Connecticut lawmakers and Gov. Dan Malloy supported legal wagering for the Nutmeg State. But implementation stalled when Malloy couldn’t strike a deal with the native tribes, which run the state’s two casinos.
Ned Lamont, a former business owner who supported gambling expansion in his campaign, will replace Malloy in January 2019. The new governor said he would work with the tribes to possibly open a third casino and hopefully work out a deal which would include sports betting.
Betting Laws in Connecticut
More than 3.5 million residents live in Connecticut. Hartford is the capital, while Bridgeport is its largest city with about 150,000 people.
Gambling, whether it's the slots at Foxwoods or table games at Mohegan Sun, is regulated at the state level by the Connecticut Division of Special Revenue.
All legalized gambling within the state of Connecticut is limited to the following areas:
- Tribal casinos
- Pari-mutuel betting
- Daily fantasy betting
- Social gambling
- Charitable gambling
Connecticut residents that have reached the age of 21 are eligible to gamble in land-based casinos, online casinos, land-based and online poker rooms, and online sports books like Bovada. The state has not legalized online gambling but it is not illegal either.
The betting age for the state lottery and pari-mutuel wagering is 18.
Connecticut law allows the large Indian casinos run by the Pequot and Mohegan tribes. These tribal casinos in the state are hugely popular. So much so, in fact, that neighboring Massachusetts recently legalized the opening of three casinos.
Connecticut's two mega-casinos — Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun — are located about 10 miles from each other. Both casinos sit like a pair of unlikely structures in the middle of the woods in the southeastern part of the state. Mohegan Sun is owned by the Mohegan tribe, Foxwoods by the Pequot tribe.
Foxwoods, which opened in 1986, is one of the largest casinos in North America. Mohegan, which opened in 1996, is its cool little brother. Both resorts have restaurants, stores, arenas, pools, spas and gyms, and welcome tens of thousands of guests every week.
There are no longer functioning horse racing facilities in Connecticut. In the early 20th century, a number of racetracks were closed due to widespread anti-gambling sentiment in the U.S., which resulted in the majority of states banning bookmaking. But fans of the sport can still bet on horse racing, which is legal in the state.
Bettors can wager on horse racing at the two tribal casinos or one of the many off-track-betting shops in the state.
Connecticut became the fourth U.S. state to get its own lottery when it began selling tickets in February 1972. The original lotto game was simply called The Lottery and draws were held every week with winning numbers paying out prizes for as much as $5,000.
Today, there are seven single games offered in the state. Connecticut residents can also play national lottery games Mega Millions and Powerball.
Connecticut's Sports Betting Laws
In 2017, lawmakers passed a gaming package which called on regulators to establish the state's industry pending a change in federal law. The U.S. Supreme Court struck down that federal ban that prohibited states from regulating the sports betting industry in May 2018.
Connecticut’s law directs regulators to adopt sports betting regulations, and that hasn’t happened yet. Regulators want more legislation to guide their hand, even though land-based sports betting is technically legal in the state.
“It’s only a matter of time until the next legal hammer drops,” Rep. Joe Verrengia, D—West Hartford and co-chairman of legislature’s public safety and security committee, said. “We can’t have the gaming industry in Connecticut on hold while the landscape all around us is changing.”
Residents looking to bet on their favorite team have to go online. Top-ranked operators like Bovada offer players from Connecticut online casino games, sports betting, poker and horse racing without changing software or websites.
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Connecticut's Favorite Teams
Connecticut hasn't had a men's major league sports team since the National Hockey League's Hartford Whalers relocated to North Carolina in 1997. However, the state is home to the WNBA's Connecticut Sun and several minor league sports teams.
The state is also located between Massachusetts and New York, which is home to about a dozen professional teams. It's about a two-hour drive from the state capital to Fenway Park in Boston or a 3 1/2-hour drive from Hartford to Yankee Stadium in New York City.