The state of Connecticut recently passed an online gambling bill, becoming the seventh US state to regulate online poker, among other forms of gambling. While there are still some legal issues to iron out, it seems clear that residents of CT will soon have access to the three main verticals of online gambling: casino, sports betting and online poker.
Before the bill could be passed, the governor had to come to an agreement with two tribes who have a monopoly on casino games in the state: Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan. The tribes have managed to get the most out of this deal, as they retain exclusive rights offer online poker and casino games.
The only concession came in the sports betting sector, where the Connecticut Lottery Corporation will also be authorized to launch a betting platform.
Thus, CT poker players will be able to make the most of two sites online, if the two tribes find suitable partners and decide that online poker is a viable option. Connecticut’s population is only 3.5 million, so it’s not a big market.
However, with the MJ By passing the possibility of appealing the latest court ruling in the Wire Act case, which rejected attempts to expand the law of the 1960s to include online gambling beyond sports betting, the way is clearly mapped out for new interstate online transactions. This means that the size of an individual market should no longer be as large as operators will seek to combine player pools across state borders.
With all of this information in mind, the big question is, which companies are most likely to try to get their foot in the door and take over the newly regulated CT poker market?
PokerStars in Connecticut
The PokerStars United States The network has grown significantly since 2016 when the company was first launched in New Jersey. With presence in Michigan and Pennsylvania, and looking at their options in Nevada as well, PokerStars appears to be one of the most likely candidates to try to receive an operational license in Connecticut.
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This seems even more likely in the light of recent developments and the legal obstacles to interstate pacts finally lifted. Since there is nothing in the CT’s online gaming law preventing such agreements, the state will likely seek to enter into agreements with other regulated states.
If PokerStars were to enter CT, the Mohegan Tribe is their natural partner in the state. The tribe already operates Resorts Casino in New Jersey, which serves as the physical base of operations for PokerStars NJ.
In addition to online poker, PokerStars also offers online casino and sports betting platforms, so that they can provide the full range of products for the online branch of Mohegan Tribe.
However, the Mohegan has already made some agreements with Kinship group / Unibet also, and the company will likely be interested in at least covering the aspect of online betting. The PokerStars partnership is therefore not guaranteed.
888 could strengthen its own brand in Connecticut
One company that might be interested in starting an online poker room in CT is 888, although it’s hard to say for sure what their plans entail.
In a recent interview for pokerfuse, Yaniv Sherman, senior vice president of 888 Holdings, hinted at the possibility of strengthening the 888poker brand in the United States, independent of its longtime online partner, the World Series of Poker.
At present, 888 has very strong ties to Caesars and the WSOP and the plan for the immediate future appears to be that they will act in concert in markets such as Michigan and Pennsylvania. But Sherman said the end goal is to have a presence in all regulated states and eventually build a strong network of sites.
From this point of view, Connecticut could be an attractive option for 888. If the company wanted to build an independent brand in the United States, it could start with a new brand. newly regulated market.
WSOP Could also show interest
This will not be the first time that 888 has entered a new market on its own. We’ve seen the company take this approach before in Delaware, where it won the contract to provide online poker to the state’s three racinos.
It must be said, however, that these developments will depend on the plans WSOP United States could have for Connecticut.
By the time CT is online, WSOP will be live in four states: existing New Jersey and Nevada, as well as Michigan and Pennsylvania. It is safe to assume that all four will be connected in a single player pool and may well represent America’s largest online poker network. The operator could well turn to small states like Connecticut to further expand its footprint.
If so, it’s hard to imagine that 888 would go against its long-standing strategic partner during the tendering process, especially since the company made it clear that it was always giving WSOP partnership an advantage on all plans solo.
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Will BetMGM / partypoker Network US fight for a place in CT?
The partypoker american network is another strong candidate to compete for a CT license now that interstate agreements are a real possibility. The network has focused on the BetMGM USA brand in particular, so they might want to continue in that vein if they see Connecticut as a viable market.
Get and MGM The resorts (the two companies behind the BetMGM joint venture and the partypoker US Network) currently have no presence in the state, nor any kind of cooperation with the tribes. It’s here that PokerStars has the upper hand, at least as far as the Mohegan tribe is concerned.
The Mashantucket Pequot tribe, which operates Foxwoods, may be looking for a suitable partner, however. They have a partnership in place with DraftKings, but the company was never interested in online poker. So Foxwoods will likely need a different partner for this side of the business.
It is still early days to say whether they will find this partner in BetMGM, WSOP / 888 or some other company, and if this partnership is even a priority. Even with the restrictions on interstate poker lifted, it will still take some time for new agreements to be created, so it is likely that online poker will not be high on the priority list at this time.
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