The US state of Connecticut has not yet legalized online sports betting, but those who hope to be able to enter a future sports betting sector have been making moves in anticipation.
One of the most notable developments has come from DraftKings. They have announced that they have entered a deal with the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation, which own the Foxwoods Resort Casino in the state. The agreement allows for DraftKings to run sports betting on behalf of the tribe in the event of state-wide legalization.
The move represents a careful step for DraftKings into a political environment that could prove tricky for betting operators to negotiate. The issue was highlighted in a statement from DraftKings confirming the deal. That statement noted that the Mohegan and Mashantucket Pequot tribes held the exclusive rights to run gaming operations within the borders of Connecticut.
In the past, the tribes have argued that their exclusivity in the area of casino games also extended to sports betting in the event of any legalization. These arguments have also been accompanied by the threat of legal action against the state and a warning that they would cease their annual $250 million revenue sharing payments to the state.
The issue is further complicated by the likes of Sportech, which operates off-track horse racing betting venues throughout the state. They have stated that they should be included in the sports betting sector. So any legalization bill faces a number of thorny problems. By signing up with the Mashentucket Pequot Tribe, DraftKings have put themselves in a position that should minimize their exposure to any such controversies.
DraftKings has not been hesitant in talking up the deal, with the company’s co-rounder and president Matt Kalish describing it as a landmark deal. Kalish also said that it was a critical next stage in their aim of bringing the DraftKings sportsbook to Connecticut.
That is in line with their ongoing attempt to capture as much of the US sports betting market as possible. The operator currently has mobile sports betting operations in ten states, which makes them the biggest player in this market across the nation.
And although sports betting in Connecticut is a way off, DraftKings will soon be able to operate their Daily Fantasy Sports platform in the state. From December 13, they will be the casino’s first-ever partner in daily fantasy sports, sharing contests and online promotions.
A Way to Go
It is clear, however, that there is still a way to go before sports betting is up and running in the state and more than a few hurdles to clear.
For one thing, the tribal compacts that apply in the state would need to be expanded to make allowances for sports betting. The current arrangement sees the two tribal casinos in the state, Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun, pay 25% of slot revenue into the state coffers.
The deal between Foxwoods and DraftKings will also put pressure on the other tribe in the state, the Mohegan Tribe. Back in 2019, they made a deal with sports betting services supplier Kambi, suggesting that they were considering producing their own sports betting brand. But the new development may persuade them to look for a similar partnership.
There is a further complication in Connecticut thanks to plans between MGM Resorts International and the two tribes to build a casino in Bridgeport. That development has been mired in legal difficulties, but MGM, which already operates a casino in Massachusetts, has been pushing to break into the sports betting market across the US and would be keen on becoming a player in Connecticut.