After a long wait, legal sports betting is officially being rolled out in Connecticut. With some casinos already in place, on-site wagers are just about ready to be placed. Green lighting online betting is expected to take a little more time, but not much more. It is a matter of days or weeks rather than months. How is Connecticut getting it done? What does it all mean? Let's break it down.
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Legalized sports betting is catching on like a wild fire in the United States. Many places have already crossed the line, and previously billed holdouts are getting ready to join the party, as well.
In recent weeks, two states have received the most attention for their decisions to accelerate the sports betting process: Maryland and Connecticut. While Maryland is up against a longer timeline—likely the NFL playoffs—Connecticut's unveiling, so to speak, is much closer. In fact, Connecticut actually has a launch date in mind for legal online sports betting.
Legal Sports Betting is Coming to Connecticut
Connecticut will essentially be rolling out its legalized sports gambling in two phases.
First, they will open on-site retail locations. Then, shortly thereafter, they hope to launch a trio of online sportsbooks to pair with their retail options. This order, while not that notable to some, is important. And it could inform how much revenue Connecticut stands to make.
Why is Connecticut Opening Retail Sportsbooks First?
The answer to this question isn't the least bit complicated. It is purely a matter of convenience.
Connecticut is already home to the Mohegan Sun casino, so they aren't actually opening new sports-betting locations. The Mohegan Sun, owned and operated by the Mohegan Indians, is merely starting to accept sports wagers.
Though an exact date hasn't been set for these services, the general consensus is it will happen soon. It might already be happening. At this writing, many believe Connecticut is less than a week away from accepting sports bets at Mohegan.
How much business they do remains to be seen. Mohegan Suns is largely a tourist destination, with patrons coming from surrounding states. Entertain and hotel amenities are also a huge part of their business. It is beyond unlikely they get a ton of foot traffic dedicated solely to gambling on sports.
Hence the importance of online sportsbooks—and why Connecticut intends to have them up and running very soon.
The Importance of Online Sportsbooks in Connecticut
Online sportsbooks have the ability to reach a wider audience. They are not beholden to customers walking through their door, who have to physically be there. They can accept in-state wagers as well as out-of-state bets from regions in which it's legal to place them.
This is why online sportsbook operators are often more open to paying larger licensing fees and footing the bill on steeper tax rates. Their potential revenue is higher; and the higher their revenue, the better it is for the states in which they are licensed.
Connecticut appears to understand this. They have given rights to three major online sportsbooks: FanDuel, DraftKings and Rush Street Interactive's SugarHouse-branded sportsbook. All of these companies have varying levels of experience in operating their sportsbook and reeling in significantly lucrative revenue.
When Will Online Sports be Up and Running in Connecticut?
As of now, Connecticut has announced an expected October 7 launch date for all three of the online sportsbooks expected to operate within the state. They will all open their metaphorical doors simultaneously and won't have any restrictions on the types of bets they can accept.
The timing here is purposeful. Connecticut wants to capitalize on as much of the NFL and college football seasons as possible. They remain some of the biggest revenue-drivers in the sports-betting industry.
Ideally, both the retail and online sportsbooks would've been open for business a month or so ago to piggyback off the start of the pro and collegiate seasons. But that timeline was overly ambitious given Connecticut's online sportsbooks were essentially situating themselves from scratch. Regardless, it is early enough into the football season that Connecticut—as well as their three online sportsbooks—should reap the benefits.
How Much Will Connecticut Make Off Sports Betting?
Legalized sports betting always comes back to expected revenue. It is the entire reason states offer gambling services at all.
This is more true than ever amid the current coronavirus pandemic. Local economies have been ravaged by COVID-19, and as an industry that's not fully dependent on physical locations, legalized sports betting is considered a quick fix when it comes to drumming up more revenue.
States only just entering the sports-betting fold can have a difficult time knowing what to expect. Projections are made by experts, but nothing is certain until they've actually gone through the entire year.
Connecticut is also up against various other challenges that make it difficult to forecast their first year of earnings. Some surrounding states already have legal sports betting—like New Jersey and Pennsylvania—while others are in the process of getting their own operations off the ground after legalizing it (such as New York and Massachusetts). This inherently limits Connecticut's appeal to out-of-state bettors. Very few will have any reason to travel to them with the sole intention of betting on sports.
Still, the initial projections remain fairly huge. Many experts believe Connecticut can secure $450 million in annual revenue right out of the gate, in large part because they're so committed to establishing their online gambling presence. That number may not climb exponentially in the coming years, since Connecticut is a lower-populated state, but there is room for growth on top of it.
Check out this list of the top online sportsbooks in case you aren't able to make it to an on-site gambling location: