Sportsbooks Advance in Connecticut, But Poker Appearing as Low Priority Sportsbooks Advance in Connecticut, But Poker Appearing as Low Priority

As regulators in Connecticut consider rules that will govern their future online gaming market, separate deals between FanDuel, DraftKings and the state’s two tribal casinos for retail and online sportsbook appear to show that interstate poker is not a priority—at least for now.

Connecticut’s gaming regimen, which was signed into law in late May and took effect on July 1, will award gaming licenses to the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation and the Mohegan Tribe, which operate the state’s only two casinos, Foxwoods Resort and Mohegan Sun, respectively.

One online sportsbook license, through a partnership with the Connecticut Lottery Corporation, remains to be issued. But the tribes have already picked who they want.

Under an agreement announced on July 7, FanDuel will provide online and retail sportsbook, iGaming and daily fantasy sports in the state through the Mohegan Tribe’s license. The operator will open a temporary retail sportsbook inside the Mohegan Sun casino in September, followed by a permanent facility to open over the winter.

DraftKings and the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation entered into a similar agreement to provide online and retail sportsbooks last December. Amended compacts between the tribes and the state must be approved by the US Department of Interior (DOI) before the gaming licenses are issued.

But the new partnerships could be a disappointment for poker players since neither FanDuel nor DraftKings offer an online poker app.

One possibility for bringing poker to the Constitution State would be for the tribes to partner with different operators for online sports betting and online poker. Under one such scenario, FanDuel could continue their plans to offer sportsbook through the Mohegan Sun but a different operator, PokerStars, could offer poker.

FanDuel and PokerStars are both Flutter subsidiaries, but only PokerStars has a successful poker app that’s been deployed in three US states—Michigan, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

Other potential suitors include:

  • The partypoker US network, likely through either the BetMGM or Borgata brands;
  • WSOP, through its partnership with 888; or
  • 888, independent of its WSOP partner.

Another possibility would be for FanDuel to acquire or partner with another company that has an existing poker platform. But that would go against FanDuel’s pledge to “supply an online casino experience under the Mohegan Sun brand,” which it made in the July 7 announcement.

Mohegan Digital, the new iGaming division of Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment that was launched on June 30, also cast shade on the idea of going with someone else for poker.

“The hope is to work with FanDuel for online poker,” Aviram Alroy, Vice President Product of Mohegan Digital, told pokerfuse. “They will be our first choice.”

Connecticut has a relatively small population at 3.6 million, so its two casinos will remain an unattractive option for online poker operators until the state either joins or forms an interstate compact to share liquidity.

Barring that and a change in partners or capabilities, it seems unlikely that online regulated poker will be coming anytime soon.