Last updated: June 1, 2020
Status: Technically sports betting is legal in Connecticut, however, it is not possible to bet on sports at present. Regulations need to be adopted setting out sport betting guidelines before it can go live. Betting on in-venue and online horse racing is permitted.
ETA: Legal sports betting is expected to begin at some point during 2020.
As with many other states, Connecticut has been working on introducing a bill to make sports betting legal. After the fall of the 1992 Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) in May 2018, the US Supreme Court confirmed that individual states have the right to legalize sports betting.
With sports betting already up and running in many neighbouring states, there is a sense of urgency to get regulation passed in Connecticut but things have taken longer than expected. A bill is already in place and has the support of legislators. However, a number of details in the legislation still need to be ironed out before sports betting can finally receive the green light.
The main issues involve passing a bill that satisfies all areas of gambling such as online casinos, keno, sports betting, as well as land-based casinos. Connecticut has two casinos operated on tribal lands under the federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. There are concerns among tribal leaders that new legislation could impact existing commitments to tribal gaming. The Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes already hold the rights to casino gambling across the state so they have valid concerns over the rights of sports betting.
Further hearings will seek a global solution that satisfies all parties. However, with time running out to amend and vote on the bill in the house, it could mean that sports betting will not be launched in Connecticut until 2020.
Charitable bingo was the first legalized form of gambling in Connecticut, appearing in 1939. Later, in 1955, the law was extended to include raffles and bazaars. Today, non-profit organizations that legally conduct games for fundraising purposes pull in revenue in excess of $30m, raising a total of more than $10m for their respective causes.
A state lottery was authorized in 1971 at the same time as the bill for horse race betting was passed. The first lottery tickets in Connecticut went on sale in 1972. Today, the lottery offers regular draws and scratch card games to players across the state and is a billion dollar industry.
Wagering on horse racing was legalized in 1972 and was soon followed by greyhound racing and jai alai (a version of the Basque game pelota) in 1972. Tribal gaming began with a bingo operation in 1986 and casino games were added to the venue in 1992. A second casino opened in 1996. Off-track betting for horse and dog racing is currently operated by an organisation named Sportech, while the casino rights are held by the land-based tribal casinos.
In theory, sports betting is not illegal in Connecticut. However, the legislation that would allow the state to grant licences to official operators has yet to be passed. With discussions ongoing, it could be Q4 in 2020 before the relevant laws are in place.
This is one of the sticking points with the current bill as it stands. The tribal holders of the casino's rights want to ensure that any new laws do not infringe on their current rights and they also feel that they have a claim to some or all of the rights for sports betting. Sportech, an international betting technology firm that currently offers legal in-venue and online betting on horse racing in the state, could also be involved in the running of sports betting.
The minimum age for sports betting in Connecticut will be 21.
At present, you can’t legally bet on sports in Connecticut, but the state does permit parimutuel wagering on horse and greyhound racing.
Until the bill is passed, there will be no places to legally bet on sports in the state. The first licences are expected to be issued in 2020.
Currently, there are no legal sportsbooks in Connecticut.
Any future bill that is passed should allow provision for all forms of online gambling, including wagering from mobile apps.
It is estimated that around $600m worth of sports wagers could be placed each year in Connecticut, raising over $12m in tax revenue.
A tax rate somewhere between the 6.75% rate charged in Nevada and the 8.5% rate applied in New Jersey can be expected in Connecticut.
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