Sports betting is not yet possible in Connecticut, though it is technically legal.
In 2017, lawmakers passed a gaming package that called on regulators to establish the state’s industry pending a change in federal law.
That change came in May 2018. The US Supreme Court struck down the federal ban that prohibited states from regulating the activity. No longer bound by PASPA, each individual state is free to create its own sports betting industry.
Connecticut’s law became active under that ruling, but it still needs some work. Regulators have asked for more direction, and state-tribe friction has hindered the process so far. There’s a clear appetite for sports betting, though, including among the tribes.
The future of sports betting in Connecticut
One thing appears to be clear: sports betting in the state of Connecticut will involve the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan Indians in some way.
Gov. Ned Lamont‘s spokesman Max Reiss told the Hartford Courant he wants competition in the state:
“[Lamont] wants to sign a sports betting bill into law over the next few months,” Reiss said. “Any such proposal, however, must be designed to avoid and withstand endless legal challenges, include multiple, competing mobile platforms off the tribes’ reservations, and build upon the existing footprints of all of the state’s existing gaming operators.”
Unfortunately for Lamont, the tribes see sports betting as another casino game. The two have exclusivity to casino games in the state, which means no competition if the tribes have it their way.
Sportech, which operates 14 off-track betting facilities in the state, also want to be involved in the conversation.
When will online sports betting launch in Connecticut?
There’s no way to say when mobile sports betting might launch in Connecticut.
Most of the states in New England seem to understand the importance of mobile sports betting. Neighboring Rhode Island recently authorized remote registration and Massachusetts is expected to consider sports betting later this year.
But considering Lamont said he wants to sign a sports betting bill that includes multiple mobile operators, it seems likely mobile will be part of the conversation.
Legal sports betting basics in Connecticut
Connecticut has several forms of legal gambling outside of sports betting.
The state’s two tribal casinos generate billions of dollars in annual revenue from table games, slots and bingo. They’re owned by the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes, who are planning to build a third casino near East Windsor. Connecticut also has a significant pari-mutuel wagering industry (including off-track horse betting) and a state lottery.
In 2017, Gov. Dannel Malloy signed the gaming expansion that granted permission for the East Windsor casino. It was accompanied by a “sweetener bill” which included (1) a new advisory council for large entertainment venues, (2) an expansion to the state’s OTBs, and (3) the direction to establish sports betting regulations if federal hurdles are removed.
Here’s what the law says:
The Commissioner of Consumer Protection shall adopt regulations, in accordance with the provisions of chapter 54 of the general statutes, to regulate wagering on sporting events to the extent permitted by state and federal law.
Regulators in Connecticut aren’t quite ready to move forward, though. The Department of Consumer Protection asked the legislature for more guidance, spawning a series of investigative hearings on the topic.
In the time since passage, lawmakers have become educated about the sports betting industry as they’ve looked to shape the Division’s framework. Lobbyists from the NBA and MLB have testified in support of CT sports betting, provided the regulations include integrity fees paid directly to them.
Latest Connecticut sports betting news
Legal betting options in Connecticut
Right now, there are no legal betting options in Connecticut.
There are websites that claim they can accept sports bets from within Connecticut as well as the rest of the United States. But these websites aren’t licensed at the state level, meaning there are when betting with them.
An offshore operator might decide to not pay out a winning bet. Or, if the operations are shut down by a government or any other reason, they have no legal requirement to US citizens to pay out their account balances.
Most potentially popular sports to bet on in Connecticut
Connecticut is technically in New England, but it also borders the state of New York.
That leaves allegiance across the state to some very popular NFL teams.
The New England Patriots have been popular bets during the Tom Brady era, but that could all change with Cam Newton or someone else at quarterback.
Meanwhile, the New York Giants and New York Jets haven’t been great teams the past few years but still have loyal fans all throughout the region.
Basketball could also be a betting favorite in Connecticut. That’s especially true if betting is allowed on in-state college teams.
The University of Connecticut Huskies men’s basketball team is usually in the running for a spot in March Madness. The women’s team, of course, is one of the best women’s basketball programs in the country.
Baseball splits right down the middle in Connecticut between New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox fans.
Connecticut and daily fantasy sports
It is perfectly legal to enter daily fantasy sports contests in Connecticut.
The contests were legalized and regulated when Gov. Dannel Malloy signed a budget bill into law in October 2017.
Is horse racing legal in Connecticut?
Horse racing is legal in Connecticut, though there are currently no tracks that run races.
Betting on horse racing is legal at off-track betting facilities available around the state.
Connecticut sports betting timeline
2020: Two sports betting packages – H 5168 and S 21 – were submitted early in the legislature but ultimately failed to progress after multiple hearings.
H 5168 lets the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan Indians as well as the off-track betting operators run sportsbooks. S 21, meanwhile, is all about the tribes. Along with sports betting the bill gives them online gaming and permission for a Bridgeport casino.
2019: Sports betting was not included in a special session the legislature held in the fall.
2018: In March, the Public Safety and Security Committee held an exploratory hearing on sports betting. Lawyers from the NBA and MLB attended to pitch their list of wants, including the ability to restrict wagers and the right to collect an integrity fee.
Lawmakers pushed back on the integrity fee, which the NBA lawyer referred to as a “royalty fee.” The leagues argue that the strength of their brand and the need to bolster their monitoring tools necessitate inclusion in the revenue from sports betting. They’re asking for one percent of all money wagered, which could amount to a lot of money.
Foxwoods Resort Casino later submitted testimony saying it favors legalization.
2017: Public Act 17-209 is the law that moves to regulate sports betting in Connecticut. The Act directs the DCP to expand their oversight to the new industry to the extent permitted by state and federal law.
Shortly after passage, the Department indicated that it was aware of its new responsibilities:
DCP is tasked with adopting regulations to regulate wagering on sporting events to the extent permitted by state and federal law. The Department is also aware of the New Jersey case that the U.S. Supreme Court is taking up and will continue to monitor federal activity surrounding sports betting.
The DCP subsequently asked for more guidance in establishing the regulatory framework for Connecticut sports betting.
Connecticut sports betting FAQ
Is sports betting legal in Connecticut?
Yes. But there’s a “but.”
You still can’t bet on sports right now in the state. Connecticut’s law directs regulators to adopt sports betting regulations, and that hasn’t happened yet. Regulators want more legislation to guide their hand.
That’s a big ask under CT’s complicated gambling landscape, which requires careful navigation of tribal compacts. The legislature has already adjourned for the year.
Who would oversee Connecticut sports betting?
The Department of Consumer Protection (DCP) oversees the state’s current gambling activity, including sports betting.
Where can I bet on sports in Connecticut?
Nowhere currently. Regulators and lawmakers will determine which forms of sports betting are permitted and how/where those wagers can be placed.
Who can apply for a Connecticut sports betting license?
There is no current application process to offer sports betting in Connecticut.
Who will be able to bet on sports in Connecticut?
The legal gambling age is 21 for casino gaming and 18 for pari-mutuel wagering.
Will mobile sports betting be available in Connecticut?
It’s too early to say for sure, but lawmakers have explored allowing mobile and internet betting. League lobbyists argue the necessity of mobile betting to capture market share back from offshore operators.