Sports betting in Connecticut made a large move towards going live with its announcement of vendors for its upcoming sports betting market. In an announcement by the Connecticut Lottery, the state chose rush Interactive to head their online sports betting operations.
Rust Street Interactive, a company known for launching the first legal online sportsbook in Pennsylvania, was chosen by the Connecticut lottery for its sterling reputation.
“They have a great track record of competing effectively. They have a great track record in terms of integrity in every state they’ve done business in,” Lottery Chairman Rob Simmelkjaer said of Rush Street Interactive. The company currently operates in three states besides Pennsylvania, including Colorado, Indiana, and Illinois.
The Decision of Connecticut State Lottery
The State Lottery’s decision was also impacted by certain phrasing in the law, disallowing sportsbooks that had direct connections or affiliations to brick-and-mortar casinos. Sportsbooks that fall under this definition would include WynnBett (associated with the Wynn Casino), BetMGM (affiliated with the MGM casino), and Caesars sportsbook (tied to Caesars Entertainment).
Though this announcement bodes well for the further progress of sports betting in Connecticut, the state must make some final approvals: The Bureau of Indian Affairs still has to sign off on the agreement between the tribes and state government. Connecticut’s sports betting has had a long road of trials to come to fruition, with nearly two years passing since the legalization advocacy first began.
The Battle for Approval
The journey for Connecticut sports betting has been arduous. Starting back in March of 2020, Governor Ned Lamont began publicly advocating for a sports betting bill, looking to establish a deal with Native American Tribes within the state. A deal was eventually reached between the state government and two tribes within Connecticut: the Mashantucket Pequot tribe and the Mohegan tribe.
The expansion of tribal compacts to include online sports betting preempted the introduction of HB6451. The bill, introduced to the Connecticut Senate in May of 2021, would authorize that compact negotiation between the governor and the tribal leaders. The bill was signed into law on May 27th, giving licenses to the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegans, as well as the Connecticut State Lottery.
A Bidding War
So the bidding began, with the state’s tribes choosing their sportsbooks far more quickly than the state government. The Mohegan tribe chose mobile sportsbook giant FanDuel to represent its sports betting interests, bumping off their previous choice Kambi, while the Mashantucket Pequot went with their biggest competitor: DraftKings.
With 15 total applicants for the state’s sportsbook licenses, only four binding proposals were reviewed. From there, the Connecticut State lottery chose Rush Interactive, due in part to their generous offer of at least 50% of net gaming revenue to go to the government entity. A representative of the state lottery had this to say about their revenue percentage requirements:
“I was public in my desire for us to receive at least 50% of net gaming revenue, and their offer did achieve that for us. Again, as I stated we can’t name a specific number because of the deductions and how much is deducted will end up determining exactly where on that scale we will end up. But we were very pleased with the revenue share as well as the minimum revenue guarantee.”
Location, Location, Location
With Rush Interactive now at the helm of establishing legitimate sports betting operations within the state, one of the first choices the company must make is where exactly to put them. The company can create up to 15 locations for customers to engage in sports gambling, with two spots already cemented: Bridgeport and Hartford. In addition, 10 of the 15 have been designated to go on Sportech locations, another partner of the deal.
Sportech was awarded these ten spots due partly to their threat to sue the state government if they did not give his company a license. Though a contentious foundation for an agreement, Sportech is confident their existing facilities will be perfect for housing expanded sports gambling operations.
As the football season grows near, the clock is ticking to have these sports gambling deals finalized and operations up and running. Hopefully, with this new partnership, Connecticut can establish itself as a major player in the country’s growing sports betting space.