Rollout of sports betting in Connecticut to begin Thursday

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — The long-awaited rollout of sports wagering in Connecticut will begin on Thursday when Foxwoods Resort Casino and Mohegan Sun officially launch their retail operations.

The long-awaited bets can be placed now that the state Department of Consumer Protection has approved the state licenses Foxwoods Resort Casino and Mohegan Sun need to launch sports betting on the tribal reservations.

“Today we celebrate a new era for our Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation, sports fans, Foxwoods guests and Connecticut residents,” said Rodney Butler, chair of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe, in a written statement. “With NFL season in full force, it’s game on, and we look forward to a successful launch.”

Meanwhile, the Connecticut Lottery Corporation says it’s aiming to begin retail and online sports betting during the first week of October. All three entities — the two tribal casinos and the state’s lottery — have been working to get their necessary approvals in time for the NFL regular season, which opened Sept. 9.

The Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation and its partner DraftKings Inc. announced Wednesday that players will be able to place bets beginning Thursday at the temporary DraftKings Sportsbook at Foxwoods and betting kiosks throughout the casino. Statewide, off-reservation online sports betting and iGaming are expected to be launched in early October, pending regulatory approvals.

The Mohegan Sun FanDuel Sportsbook is scheduled to open Thursday morning at Mohegan Sun, enabling players to place bets at four live betting windows or through 50 self-service betting terminals. A ribbon-cutting ceremony is planned.

It will mark the first step in Connecticut’s unveiling of retail and online sports betting and other internet gambling in the state over the coming weeks. It’s been roughly four months since the General Assembly approved an agreement reached between the two federally recognized tribes and Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont, allowing the state’s gambling agreements with the tribes to be amended and enabling both to offer sports betting, online gambling and online fantasy sports in return for providing the state a share of the revenues.

Lamont is expected to appear at both casinos on Thursday.

Connecticut’s new law also allows the state’s quasi-public lottery to offer online sports wagering and retail sports betting at 15 locations, including ones specifically located in Hartford and Bridgeport. At least 10 of those locations will be existing retail locations owned by Sportech, the state’s off-track betting operator. The lottery’s retail and online sports betting offerings will operate under the PlaySugarHouse brand.

On Tuesday, DCP approved the “master gaming licenses” and other licenses needed for on-reservation sports betting for the two tribal casinos after a decision from the U.S. Department of Interior approving the gambling arrangement between the state and the tribes was published in the Federal Register.

The agency also approved “master gaming licenses” for the lottery and its partner Rush Street Interactive. But Kaitlyn Krasselt, a spokesperson for DCP, said the agency is still “waiting on some documents” before a soft launch can be scheduled.

During an interview on Tuesday, Sportech and Rush Street Interactive executives said the first three Sportech venues in Stamford, Windsor Locks and New Haven — which all have restaurants and numerous television screens for patrons to watch sports — are expected to roll out sports betting kiosks in the first week of October. They’ll have proprietary software that offer players a slew of betting options. There will also be staffed teller windows at each site.

The other seven Sportech locations are expected to begin offering sports betting through the remainder of October. Richard Schwarz, president of Rush Street Interactive, said mobile betting is expected to be launched in early October as well.

Despite the competition from Foxwoods and Mohegan, Schwarz said he believes the lottery’s offerings will “stand apart” considering the variety, cross-marketing opportunities with the lottery’s 2,900 CT Lottery locations, and the proximity of residents to Sportech venues across the state.

“I think the proximity to population centers and the convenience that we offer is something that’s going to stand out,” Schwarz said. “We also have a lot of innovation on the product side.”

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