Connecticut’s Sports Betting Competition Is Heating Up

As legal sports betting is at the doorstep in Connecticut and is set to debut next month, the market will no longer be a duopoly in which the Mohegan and Mashantucket Pequot tribes control the market. The competition will now be three-way, as the Connecticut Lottery Corp. will be another major player. This quasi-public agency was authorized to operate in as many as 15 retail sportsbook locations around Connecticut.

The Lottery Will Offer Sports Betting in Numerous Locations

The lottery will provide visitors with sportsbook services at ten of the 11 Sportech brick-and-mortar facilities. Some of the properties that are included are Bobby V’s restaurant at the Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks, as well as its Stamford location. Sports Haven in New Haven and seven Winners locations in the state will also see sportsbooks.

Furthermore, Hartford and Bridgeport are two of the total of 15 venues where the lottery must set up shop, and none of them is allowed to be in the vicinity of Mohegan or Mashantucket reservations. That vicinity is 25 miles.

The no-compete zones were actually a small price that the lottery had to pay in order for tribes not to demand exclusive rights to sports betting in the state of Connecticut and that started the process of negotiating a deal between the Mohegans, the Mashantuckets, and Gov. Ned Lamont concerning landmark gaming expansion.

Rodney Butler, the chairman of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation, stated that this deal was major during a Friday interview and acknowledged the fact that Rush Street Interactive and the lottery will be fierce competitors on the market.

Land-Based Sports Betting Will be The Lottery’s Advantage

Connecticut Lottery Corp.’s contributions have gone beyond the payments that casinos make for slot revenue in each fiscal year so far, starting from 2012-2013. The corporation will also have an online brand and, earlier in August, lottery officials formed partnerships with Rush Street Interactive and Sportech. Rush Street is a vendor, while Sportech is an off-track betting operator.

Even though online betting will likely be dominated by Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods Resort Casino thanks to the database that these two operators and DraftKings and FanDuel (their sportsbook partners) have, the lottery’s advantage is that it has a network of land-based sportsbook locations and hence, it can come out on top for the retail market, according to Butler.

He added that the lottery has the potential to make many impressions as their brick-and-mortar locations will put them closer to the people in selected areas. The company sells lottery tickets at more than 2,000 locations and it can put more money into advertising, as it doesn’t have to maintain the infrastructure.

The chairman of the board of the directors of the lottery, Rob Simmelkjaer, agreed on what’s stated above and said the Sportech and other locations that the lottery will select will put the off-track betting operations by the company within a 30-minute drive to 80% to 90% of the residents in Connecticut.

Each Company Will Get a Fair Share of the Online Betting Market

Simmelkjaer acknowledged the fact that in the online betting market, the lottery will be against two well-established companies and that the lottery expects these operators to have a good start thanks to their database. He added that in the first couple of years, these betting operators will do well but, over time, the competition for this market, which is responsible for 70%-80% of the betting revenue, will intensify.

Furthermore, Simmelkjaer stated that in a market in which only three operators are offering sports betting services, betting fans will be more than open to try all three options and thus, each operator will get a shot at attracting more customers and thus, get a majority share on the market.

Based on the services that the three operators provide, like point spreads, odds, payment methods, and returns, bettors will be able to determine which operator meets their individual needs.

Speaking on the Sportech locations of the lottery, Simmelkjaer said that they will have at least one betting window and multiple kiosks. Certain big events, like NFL weekends, will be accompanied by a higher number of tellers. Betting will take place in special areas in locations such as Bobby V’s.

Additionally, some locations will offer food and drinks, but some will not. Currently, the lottery has a major focus on establishing an XL Center Hartford location. XL Center was previously known as Hartford Civic Center. It may also include several Bridgepoint locations, but not Sportech’s Shoreline Star, which is a former greyhound track.

The Lottery is Open to Proposals From Businesses

When it is all said and done, the lottery will have three more betting locations in Connecticut, which is why it will be open to proposals from business operators. According to Simmelkjaer, bidders that are coming from underrepresented groups, women-owned businesses and minority-owned businesses included, will have the advantage. He added that all responses that are outside of the tribal reservation’s 25-mile radius will be looked into.

Online and offline betting operations are likely to be launched at the same time by both the lottery and the casinos and that will be as soon as the amendments on the agreements of tribal-state gaming are signed by the U.S. Department of the Interior and as soon as the new regulations on sports betting, which are written by the Department of Consumer Protection are approved by the Regulation Review Committee.

Mashantucket’s chairman was hoping that these approvals will be done by the start of the NFL season on September 9, when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers play the Dallas Cowboys. But, that won’t be the case if the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Indian Affairs allows the 45-day review period to expire without comment. If that happens, which the agency has done previously, the desired scenario will not take place. The 45-day period began on July 27 and that means that it will end on the date of the NFL season opener.

The Regulation Review Committee will vote on these regulations on August 31 and Simmelkjaer expects wagering to be launched at the end of October, the NFL season’s halfway point.

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