We see FanDuel as really the best partner we could find in the marketplace to bring sports betting, iGaming and—after an evaluative period of time—poker to this state.Retail and online sportsbook at the Mohegan Sun casino in Connecticut will include branding from FanDuel and the Mohegan Tribe, according to a tribal company executive, who added that PokerStars could be the operator the tribe ultimately partners with to bring online poker to the state.
Rich Roberts, president of Mohegan Digital, told pokerfuse that Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment (MGE) “will be working with FanDuel to bring their exceptional products to Connecticut and marry them up with the exceptional brand and retail experience that we bring.”
“We are going to have an exceptional experience in Connecticut for those who want to participate—including the retail sportsbook at Mohegan Sun and the digital app that we are branding together with FanDuel,” he added.
MGE launched Mohegan Digital as its iGaming division with Roberts at the helm on June 30. It announced an agreement with FanDuel on July 7.
The agreement calls for FanDuel to provide online and retail sportsbook, iGaming and daily fantasy sports in the state through the Mohegan Tribe’s license. FanDuel will also open a temporary retail sportsbook inside the Mohegan Sun casino in September, followed by a permanent facility to open over the winter.
Although the current focus is on sports betting, Roberts said online poker isn’t being forgotten.
Certainly, with the relationship in New Jersey with PokerStars, that would obviously be our focus for poker in Connecticut“In Connecticut, we see FanDuel as really the best partner we could find in the marketplace to bring sports betting, iGaming and—after an evaluative period of time—poker to this state.”
Roberts acknowledged that FanDuel doesn’t have a poker app, but that may not matter since the operator and PokerStars are both Flutter subsidiaries. PokerStars has a successful poker app that’s been deployed in three US states——PS Michigan, PokerStars NJ and PokerStars PA.
“Certainly, with the relationship in New Jersey with PokerStars, that would obviously be our focus for poker in Connecticut,” he said.
End of Wire Act Case Brings Some Clarity
Connecticut has a relatively small population at 3.6 million, so the state would need to either join or form an interstate compact to share liquidity for a poker site like PokerStars CT to really take off.
Roberts said the DOJ’s decision not to appeal a Wire Act case last month would allow interstate compacts like the Multi-State Internet Gaming Agreement (MSIGA) to expand and possibly include smaller states like Connecticut. “Allowing these compacts to expand state by state, that’s what we’re looking from the evaluation perspective.”
The question of who will ultimately operate an online poker room for the Mohegan Sun is further complicated by speculation that Flutter may be interested in spinning off FanDuel. Last March, the parent company confirmed media reports that it was considering an IPO in the US for a small stake of FanDuel but added that “no decision has been made at this time.”
When FanDuel CEO Matt King abruptly announced his resignation in May, Flutter conceded that the timing of his departure would affect the timing of a potential IPO. But Flutter made no mention of such a move when it announced on July 12 that it had appointed Amy Howe as interim CEO at FanDuel.
The timing of a FanDuel spinoff could determine whether the Mohegan Sun finds itself partnered with an operator that offers sports betting but not poker. Details of MGE’s agreement with FanDuel are also unknown. Roberts’ comments suggest that MGE has confidence in the platform that they’ve seen and could ultimately go with PokerStars for poker in Connecticut.
DraftKings Ties Up the Other Tribal Partnership in CT
Last December, the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation, which owns and operates the Foxwoods Resort casino, signed a similar deal with DraftKings, who agreed to provide online and retail sportsbooks. Foxwoods and the Mohegan Sun are the only two casinos in the state.
One online sportsbook license, through a partnership with the Connecticut Lottery Corporation, remains to be issued. Under the state’s new gaming regimen, which took effect on July 1, each tribe is allowed to partner with one operator for online casino and one operator for sports betting. Fantasy contests can have an unlimited number of partnerships.
The Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection (CDCP) is currently developing rules that will cover all aspects of online gaming in the state. Amended compacts between the tribes and the state must be approved by the US Department of Interior before the gaming licenses are issued.
CDCP officials told pokerfuse that they were unaware of any agreement between the two tribes and any operators, other than the partnerships for fantasy sports betting contests that’s been in place since July 1, the day provisional fantasy contest licenses were issued to the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation and the Mohegan Tribe.
Other operators who may be interested in setting up poker in Connecticut include the partypoker US network, WSOP and 888. As it stands, they would have to fight over a singular potential deal with DraftKings in order to have a chance at providing its services in the state.