DraftKings has partnered with a Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation that owns Foxwoods Resort Casino to enter the Connecticut sports betting market. Under the multi-channel deal announced on Monday, the Boston-based company will run sports betting for the tribe after the Nutmeg State officially launches sports betting.

When Will Sports Betting Launch in Connecticut?

A top lawmaker in the state said sports betting will be legal in Connecticut next year. Rep. Sean Scanlon is the incoming House chairman of the House’s finance committee, and his comments coincided with the Monday announcement of the DraftKings and Foxwoods deal.

Currently, eastern Connecticut’s economy is shattered by the pandemic-led crisis, and many like Scanlon realize the deal would be drawing revenue to revive the Nutmeg State. Scanlon was convinced that the sports betting industry will be legalized in 2021, adding the failure in the past years was a “missed opportunity.” He said it is one of his biggest priorities to see Connecticut sports betting legalized.

Both DraftKings and Foxwoods operators said their partnership will pave the way for online sports betting ahead of the much-awaited launch of regulated sports betting in Connecticut.

The state administration envies the neighboring states capitalizing on the lucrative sports betting industry while it has struggled to draft successful legislation in Connecticut. Each attempt has failed to bring about the state’s compacts with Foxwoods and the Mohegan Sun.

What is the Hold-Up?

The tribal owners of the state casinos maintain they have exclusive gambling rights, and their claims have drawn threats of legal action by commercial sportsbook sites, resenting the monopoly for Connecticut’s market.

Governor Ned Lamont said he will negotiate with the casino’s tribal owners before introducing legislation on expanded gambling, finding a workable solution that doesn’t result in litigation, and “that gets us off the dime.” The governor said the matter has been discussed for almost a decade and reiterated his belief that “Connecticut should participate and it should be led by the tribes.”

However, the governor would not enlighten the reporters during the briefing as to whether his proposed legislation would allow tribes the rights to online gambling while sharing sports betting with other sportsbook operators.

Exclusive Rights to Connecticut Sports Betting?

Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation said that its “exclusive rights to operate” gambling in the Nutmeg State has generated $8 billion over almost 30 years, from which 25% of slot revenue went into the state taxes.

According to Foxwoods and DraftKings, online gambling and sports betting are believed to amass $175 million in revenue for Connecticut over five years. Chairman of the Mashantucket Pequots Rodney Butler said the state’s annual share would be somewhere between $40 million and $60 million.

Both the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes have been claiming that their exclusivity on casino gaming extends to sports betting. Subsequently, both the claimants warned they would file a lawsuit against Connecticut State in case their exclusivity is breached, with additional threats of withholding the $250 million in annual revenue-sharing payments.

However, there are other stakeholders that want their share of the pie. For instance, Sportech, which runs off-track horse racing betting parlors in Connecticut, claims they should also be included in sports betting. State legislation is required to address the issue, however, DraftKings has already bet on its fate by collaborating with Foxwoods.

How Did We Reach Here?

In March, the governor backed a bill allowing tribal casinos, off-track betting sites, and Connecticut locations to operate the sports betting industry. However, the bill would not have allowed exclusive rights to the tribal casinos to monopolize sports betting operations.

Sen. Cathy Osten, D-Sprague, a key ally of the two Connecticut casinos, dismissed the possibility of a lawsuit by commercial sportsbook operators if the tribes have exclusive rights. She said that “We’re in serious trouble in eastern Connecticut.” The 2020 session of the legislature was eclipsed by the pandemic, but sports betting is likely to come up next year. However, Butler said, “Ultimately, logic would have prevailed, and we would have legislated sports betting in place.”

Landmark Deal for Connecticut Sports Betting

Matt Kalish, co-founder and president of DraftKings North America, said this is a landmark deal is a crucial next step to bringing the country’s top-rate sportsbook app to sports fans in Connecticut. He said the national expansion of legalized sports betting is DraftKings’ top strategic priority, and teaming up with the tribe will allow the operator to extend its reach even further.

In addition, DraftKings will also become Foxwoods’ first-ever daily sports betting partner by next week. The two entities will offer online promotions and contest to increase fan engagement.

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