Connecticut Casinos Unveil First Sports Betting Offers


MASHANTUCKET, Connecticut (AP) – Daniel LeBlance drove from his New York home to Foxwoods Resort Casino in Connecticut on Thursday to place one of the first bets on professional and college level sports teams, now that it’s legal in the state.

To LeBlance, it seemed extraordinary how quickly sports betting has come into being and working, not realizing that it has in fact taken years of debate in the State General Assembly and multiple failed attempts by the governors to reach Thursday’s milestone: When Retail Bets Could Be Taken at Foxwoods and Sun of Mohegan.

“It’s like a pleasant surprise pretty much,” he said. “People are just excited to have it.”

Thursday marked the first day of the state’s long-awaited rollout of bipartisan legislation legalizing sports betting and the internet. The two tribal casinos held events to mark the official opening of temporary sports betting sites, with Democratic Governor Ned Lamont having the honor of placing the first bet on each attraction. At Mohegan Sun, he bet $ 50 on the Connecticut Sun, the tribe’s professional women’s basketball team. At Foxwoods, he bet $ 20 each on the New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

In addition to opening permanent state-of-the-art sports betting sites, the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes hope to launch online sports betting and other betting, pending state approvals, in the weeks to come. to come. Meanwhile, the quasi-state-owned Connecticut State Lottery Corporation, which partners with non-tracking betting operator Sportech, is expected to roll out sports betting kiosks at the top three of Sportech’s 10 locations over the course of the year. the first week of October, with plans for the game too.

In Connecticut, known as the land of stable habits, the push to modernize the state’s gambling offerings has been difficult. This has been especially complicated and slow given the state’s unique revenue sharing agreements with the two federally recognized tribal nations and efforts not to compromise those agreements.

Meanwhile, sports betting has become legal in about two dozen states, raising concerns that Connecticut is falling behind the competition.

“There was so much unfinished business that they hadn’t been able to cross the finish line for many years. And sports betting and iGaming are a part of that, and it’s been around a while, ”Lamont said, referring to his first taking office in 2019.“ It took good negotiations and I think we got it right. . ”

The two tribes, whose casinos have been hit hard by the pandemic, have lobbied for the ability to offer both retail and online sports betting, as well as other online gambling.

While he doesn’t think sports betting on its own will compete with earnings from slots or table games, Mohegan Sun President and CEO Jeff Hamilton said in an interview that he’s expects this to be a very large offer.

“There are a lot of table players who also like to bet on sport. So that gives them a reason to come and maybe they make a bet on sports, but they will also play a table game, they will play slot machines or they will go to our restaurants, ”he said. he declares. “What we are seeing in other jurisdictions is that when you have sports betting, it also increases the income of your other sources of income.”

Jason Guyotte, president and CEO of Foxwoods Resort Casino, called sports betting a “big deal” for the long-term sustainability of the tribe, while increasing customer traffic in the sprawling resort.

“Retail brick and mortar sports betting actually generates additional gambling revenue. So we hope that this will play a role in increasing the amenities we have here at the resort and employment opportunities here, ”Guyotte said.

Chelsea Savignac and her boyfriend Brian McMahon from Lisbon, Connecticut, two sports fans, showed up to see the deployment of the first sports betting kiosks in Foxwoods. They said they look forward to spending time at Foxwoods when the new sports betting site opens in mid-November.

“I think it would be really fun to sit down, to watch the games, to bet, to be physically there, to watch it all happen,” said Savignac. “There is more energy, more interaction with sport instead of just doing it from the couch on your phone.”

Zach Young of New Haven, Connecticut, said he was “waiting for this day,” recalling that he often browsed sports betting apps he couldn’t play in preparation.

“I’ve actually lived in a few states that already have sports betting. So in terms of timing, they’re late, ”Young said. “But they’re going to do well, especially with Foxwoods and Mohegan being sports betting houses.”

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