Connecticut became the seventh state to legalize online poker when Governor Ned Lamont enacted HB6451 in May. However, there are still significant hurdles to overcome. We have explored the likelihood of legal Connecticut online poker games happening soon.
Does Connecticut’s Online Gambling Bill Include Poker?
HB6451 legalized online poker as well as CT online sports betting and casino games. It created three main license holders: the Mashantucket pequot, the Mohegan Tribe and the Connecticut Lottery. Each of these licensees was allowed to host a skin online.
The Mashantucket Pequot has opted for DraftKings, the Mohegan tribe has joined forces with FanDuel and the Lottery has chosen Sugar house. The online skin covers all forms of betting – sports betting, daily fantasy sports, casino games and poker – so DraftKings, FanDuel and SugarHouse are the only three companies who could potentially start online poker in the state.
All three brands will be able to launch video poker games and live dealer options like Caribbean Stud as part of their online casino offerings. However, real money online poker games will be a whole different matter.
Is PokerStars CT the most likely option?
It certainly is. FanDuel is owned by Flutter Entertainment, the world’s largest online gambling company. It also owns PokerStars, the world’s number one online poker brand. Therefore, Flutter can launch PokerStars in Connecticut as part of its agreement with the Mohegan. PokerStars is already available in Michigan, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania, so a Connecticut launch isn’t that far-fetched.
At present, DraftKings does not offer online poker. That could change if he succeeds in his bid to buy London-listed gaming giant Entain. He submitted a $ 22 billion offer for the company last month, which the board is considering. Entain is famous in the United States for being the co-owner of BetMGM, but it also operates popular online gambling brands such as Ladbrokes, Coral, Bwin, and partypoker. If DraftKings gets hold of Entain, it could launch the partypoker offer in Connecticut.
An Illinois-based company called Rush Street Interactive owns SugarHouse, along with BetRivers. He also doesn’t have an online poker network, so he would have to start one in order to bring online poker games to Connecticut.
More American Poker Brands Could Tune In To CT
The nature of Connecticut law prevents poker brands such as GGPoker, 888poker, and Unibet Poker from getting started. It gives DraftKings, FanDuel and SugarHouse an oligopoly, with no possibility for new competitors to enter the market.
It will be up to these three operators to determine whether it would be commercially viable to launch online poker in the state. West Virginia has legalized online poker, but the state has just 1.8 million people and no operators have gotten into it. Connecticut has a larger population with 3.6 million people and a much higher GDP, so it could be viable. However, Connecticut is much smaller than Michigan, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania, which might deter Flutter Entertainment.
What about shared player pools?
Delaware managed to sidestep the problem of its small population by agreeing to an interstate agreement with Nevada in 2013. This reunited Delaware’s population of nearly one million with Nevada’s population of 3.1 million. New Jersey joined the pact in 2018, creating a combined market of over 13 million people.
This kind of approach could help Connecticut get online poker off the ground. Nothing in HB6451 paves the way for Connecticut to join the kind of pact formed between Delaware, Nevada and New Jersey.
However, shared player pools – known in the industry as shared liquidity – between states could soon become a reality across the country. The law that prevents it from taking place at this time is the Wire Act of 1961. In 2019, District Court Judge Paul Barbadoro ruled that the scope of the Wire Act is limited to sports betting, opening thus the path to interstate online gambling and poker.
In January 2021, the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit upheld this decision. The time limit for requesting a new appeal has now passed and the Biden administration has confirmed that “the government is not considering seeking a Supreme Court review of the First Circuit decision.” It stands for Nevada, Delaware, New Jersey, Michigan, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Connecticut could theoretically team up for a large online poker network.
Anticipated launch of CT online poker
Online poker could get started in Connecticut in a number of ways. Flutter Entertainment may decide to deploy PokerStars at any time as part of its agreement with the Mohegan Tribe. DraftKings or Rush Street Interactive could potentially launch online poker if they got the in-house capabilities.
If the relatively small population turns out to be a deterrent; Connecticut could capitalize on the apparent demise of the Wire Act and join a network featuring other states with legal online poker games. The current regulations mean that one of the licensees would have to operate it, but that could be changed. He is Online poker unlikely to launch in Connecticut in 2021, but it could become a reality in the not-so-distant future.
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