A confusing comment from Mohegan Gaming interim CEO Ray Pineault on CT sports betting back in May turns out to be more telling than it appeared.
Kambi and Mohegan Gaming announced an amended agreement that no longer includes Kambi as a sports betting supplier in Connecticut. Kambi typically operates as a platform provider, not the branded sportsbook operator.
Though no longer included, Kambi will still receive the revenue forecasted from the agreement. Mohegan, meanwhile, now gets a chance to partner with a bigger name that can better compete with DraftKings Sportsbook and whatever sportsbook the Connecticut Lottery chooses. The Lottery pushed back its deadline to make a decision until next Tuesday, citing more time needed.
There is no confirmation on Mohegan’s new partner, but it could be FanDuel Sportsbook. The two are partnering on daily fantasy sports through a license approved by the Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection.
Why the change for Mohegan?
“While we had been looking forward to supporting MGE become a sports betting leader in the Connecticut market, the amicable discussions between both parties have found a positive conclusion, with MGE respecting Kambi’s financial interests for the duration of the original agreement,” Kambi CEO Kristian Nylén said.
The amended CT sports betting agreement comes just a day after Mohegan Gaming announced Mohegan Digital. That seemed to support an in-house model for Mohegan, though clearly that is not the case now.
Pineault threw doubt on CT sports betting partner
The confusion started when Pineault was questioned about the company’s future sports betting plans on Mohegan’s fiscal second quarter conference call:
“As far as partnerships, I think everybody is already aware that DraftKings has already announced that they’re partnering with Foxwoods. We have not announced a partnership of that magnitude. We are working diligently in the back on our strategy on approaching the Connecticut market and believe we will be ready once the legislation is approved.”
Mohegan, of course, signed an agreement with Kambi in 2019 to operate retail and online sports betting in Connecticut. A request for clarification on Pineault’s comments from Mohegan added to the confusion with another statement from Pineault:
“We do not have any announcements or information regarding sports wagering at this time. We continue to evaluate the market and how we participate in the market to maximize the opportunity.”
Is someone throwing a bag at Mohegan?
Amending the Kambi agreement was not a cheap decision for Mohegan to make. That suggests an operator could be throwing a bag of cash at Mohegan for CT sports betting access.
Who it might be is unclear, but two names are pretty obvious front runners: FanDuel Sportsbook and BetMGM.
FanDuel is a natural fit given its ongoing expansion into new states and publicly backed deep pockets in parent company Flutter. The new DFS agreement helps tip the scale in FanDuel’s favor as well.
BetMGM, meanwhile, has wanted a path into Connecticut since MGM Springfield opened just over the border in Massachusetts.
Both could also be involved in bidding for the CT Lottery’s skin as well after the Lottery received five bids. Even if a decision arrives Tuesday, the public will not know who won until the contract is signed.
What about daily fantasy sports in Connecticut?
It is July 1, which means the language that requires fantasy sports operators to get a license through the state’s two tribal casino partners or the Lottery is law – maybe.
It is unclear if July 1 is legally the effective date as listed in the legislation or whenever the amended gaming compacts receive federal approval.
Either way, it does not matter for the DFS giants. Just as FanDuel’s DFS license was approved with Mohegan, DraftKings had its DFS license approved through the Mashantucket Pequot, according to the DCP.
The Connecticut Lottery has not yet said who its fantasy partner will be.