The Sportsbooks Rush Street Beat Out To Win Lottery’s CT Sports Betting Skin

Posted on August 13, 2021
CT sports betting
Posted By on August 13, 2021

Rush Street Interactive beat some pretty big US sports betting names with its bid for the third and final CT sports betting license.

RSI beat out four other bidders to win the 10-year sports betting contract with the Connecticut Lottery, Chairman Rob Simmelkjaer told LSR:

  • Caesars
  • MGM Resorts
  • Penn National
  • PointsBet

All five entered binding bids to launch online CT sportsbooks that would compete with DraftKings Sportsbook and FanDuel Sportsbook. Rush Street’s financial offer and experience in retail were two big reasons for the win, Simmelkjaer said.

The brand has still not been determined. It cannot be BetRivers because that is too close to Rush Street’s Rivers brand of land-based casinos, a stipulation in the new gaming agreement.

Other proposed CT sports betting brands

Because of those branding requirements, the offerings from Caesars and MGM would have looked different as well.

Caesars would not have been a total shock: it proposed mainly using the William Hill brand, along with another local option. That would have gone against its recently launched national branding campaign for Caesars Sportsbook, though, which replaced the William Hill brand in much of the US.

MGM, meanwhile, proposed the SportingBet brand. That brand belongs to its BetMGM joint venture partner Entain and is used in Europe. Because there are casinos with MGM in the name, the BetMGM brand was not allowed.

Barstool Sportsbook and PointsBet do not share their brands with any land-based casinos, so those brands would have been allowed.

FanDuel was one of the 15 brands that responded to the request for qualifications but did not follow through with a bid. That is because it was working to get a deal with the Mohegan Indians behind the scenes, bumping Kambi out briefly. Rush Street’s win brings Kambi back into Connecticut.

Rush Street could use SugarHouse brand

One option that the Lottery is comfortable with is Rush Street using the SugarHouse brand in Connecticut, Simmelkjaer said. That brand started as a land-based casino in Philadelphia that is now named Rivers Philadelphia.

“We know they’ve invested heavily in SugarHouse in New Jersey and other states and we are very comfortable going with that approach,” said Simmelkjaer. “But there are some other brands and conversations that are still happening as well so there could be another brand that we wind up working with.”

Those conversations do not sound like they have a hard-stop date before launch, which Simmelkjaer hopes will be early in the NFL betting season:

“We could launch with one brand and quickly pivot to another.”

Not all CT sports betting bids financially equal

Rush Street offered the highest revenue share, which will be a majority of net gaming revenue, as well as $170 million guaranteed over the contract. That was nearly double the $95 million minimum guarantee, which Simmelkjaer said was a “significant factor.”

Simmelkjaer made it known he was looking for a strong revenue share. Not every bid came with that.

“I can say there were some that were at or above 50%, Rush Street was the highest,” Simmelkjaer said. “But there were some that were below 50% as well, some that were still somewhat well below 50% and that was definitely a big factor.”

Matthew Waters Avatar
Written by
Matthew Waters

Matthew Waters is a reporter covering legal sports betting and the gambling industry. Previous stops include Fantini Research and various freelance jobs covering professional and amateur sports in Delaware and the Philadelphia area.

View all posts by Matthew Waters
Privacy Policy