New Haven Register (New Haven, CT)
State’s first online sports bets make quiet history
A baseball playoff game in Atlanta and a college football matchup in Louisiana made Connecticut history this week as they became the targets of the state’s first legal online sports bets.
It happened quietly, anonymously, without the fanfare of Gov. Ned Lamont’s trip to the two tribal casinos on Sept. 30 to place the state’s first in-person sports wagers.
The Connecticut Lottery Corp., and Mohegan Sun both reported the first-ever bets on their online platforms to be $10 on the Major League Baseball playoff game between the Milwaukee Brewers and Atlanta Braves, which the Braves won 5-4. The lottery said its bettor picked the Brewers to win while Mohegan Sun didn’t disclose which team its bettor selected.
For Foxwoods, the first online sports bet was on the NCAA football matchup between the Appalachian State Mountaineers and the Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns, with the bettor placing a wager for Louisiana-Lafayette to cover the spread (+4.5 points) against Appalachian State.
Foxwoods did not specify how much the person bet. Louisiana-Lafayette handily beat Appalachian State
All three online bets were part of a “soft launch” of online betting in Connecticut, on the online platforms of Foxwoods, Mohegan Sun and the Lottery Corp. The 7-day, soft launch of online sports (for all three) and casino gambling (for the tribal casinos) started Tuesday with limited betting hours and a limit of 750 people participating on each platform.
“We’re off to a nice start with the first 24 hours of our soft launch with DraftKings and are hopeful to receive full launch approval following the successful completion of the current test period,” Rodney Butler, tribal chairman of the Mashantucket Pequots, which own Foxwoods, said in a statement.
The state Department of Consumer Protection said late Thursday that the soft launch has shown no significant problems and if that holds, online gaming will go live for the rest of the state’s 2.8 million adults 21 and older this coming Tuesday.
Tara Chozet, spokeswoman for the lottery, said in a post on her Twitter page this week that with three MLB divisional series games on ‘Day 1,’ most of the wagers the lottery received were on baseball games, “with more bettors taking the (San Francisco) Giants and (Chicago) White Sox, while bets were roughly split between Braves and Brewers.”
The Giants lost to the Los Angeles Dodgers 7-2, with the deciding Game 5 set for Thursday night. The White Sox fell to the Houston Astros 10-1 and are out of the playoffs.
“Along with MLB and NHL, football was a popular sport on Day 1, and we also took bets on golf, tennis, soccer, and MMA,” Chozet said in another Twitter post, referring to mixed martial arts.
As is the case in other states where online gambling is legal, people wagering on the Connecticut sites must be physically located in Connecticut. This is accomplished through GPS fencing, in which anyone outside the state will be excluded.
The state expects to reap $30 million in the first year, eventually ramping up to an estimated $100 million a year, by taxing online sports betting at 13.75 percent, and online casino games at 18 percent, rising to 20 percent after five years. The lottery will not pay a tax because all of its revenues after expenses move to the state’s general fund.
The size of the cut and likely profits for the three online operators — FanDuel, DraftKings and Rush Street Interactives — is not public.
The start of online gaming follows the soft launch of in-person sports betting at the two casinos in late September, with crowds reported during NFL games. But the state won’t get a cut of wagers placed in-person at the casinos. Under the new gaming law, sports bets placed on tribal reservations, like in-person bets on table games, aren’t taxed.
Separately, the lottery is setting up in-person locations for sports betting, in a partnership that includes a gaming operator and Sportech, which owns and operates off-track-betting locations around the state.
Chozet said Thursday the lottery is still waiting for approval from DCP for the 10 of 15 retail sites its authorized to operate.