NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — Mohegan Sun and Foxwood Casinos announced sports gambling is officially legal at both casinos. Governor Lamont was present at both casinos Thursday to announce the news.
The sportsbook at Mohegan Sun is now open. You can bet on football, basketball, baseball, even cricket, and darts. Lamont put his money on the Mohegan Sun Basketball Team to win their playoff game tonight.
In the new law, Connecticut players cannot bet on in-state school sports teams, including UConn.
The Department of Consumer Protection announced on Wednesday that all appropriate licenses have been issued for on-reservation sports betting to begin at Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun.
Former UConn start and Patriots defensive back Darius Butler was one of the first people at the windows. He placed his bets on the Patriots.
“It’s a different way to watch the game. It’s a different way to be into it and it’s legal now,” Butler said. “It’s fun, it’s safe, you don’t have to go underground and do some sketchy things to place bets now. It’s good for the state, bringing in money that can be taxed.”
“You can do that at home which is great, but when you come to a place where you can play table games, slots, it’s an added feature,” said Robert Lambert, a fan who drove in from Boston and placed a bet on the Patriots.
Money right now is being limited because the betting is confined to in-person wagers at Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods Casino. The plan is for the casinos and the state to run online gaming operations. Mohegan Sun has partnered with Fanduel who says this sportsbook is just temporary while they build the real thing.
“Gonna be a really immersive experience,” said Jeff Lowich, Fanduel’s senior director of retail operations. “We’ll have a giant TV wall, club chair seating, even more kiosks than we have here now, which is 42.”
The plan is to have the new sportsbook open in time for the Super Bowl.
Draft Kings partnered with leaders at Foxwoods Casino to have in-person sports betting. This operation has been years in the making.
But there’s more at stake.
“It’s about our community. It’s about who we are as a people,” said Rodney Butler, chairman of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation.
News 8 archives hold images of Governor Weicker and both tribal nations signing compacts to allow gambling. Before that was an unkind history with the Treaty of Hartford.
“Based on that, we shouldn’t be here today. We shouldn’t be celebrating this. Pequots no longer existed based on that treaty,” Chairman Butler said.
But now, decades later, victory drums beat. Part of the Pequot culture is to celebrate their heritage.
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At Shea’s Pizzeria and Sports Bar in Manchester, they are excited about sports betting. They have a huge patio and a room inside the restaurant designated for betting. They have invested heavily because they believe it’s going to pay off heavily.
Jack Maloney, the owner of Shea’s, said, “This is going to be every week, every day, and it’s going to drive a lot of traffic here… Everybody is going to prosper enormously from this. I think it’s going to pay out much more than they originally projected…They are underestimating the numbers they are going to do, I think.”
In the meantime, there are betting apps as well as online betting, but the owner of Shea’s says he’s not worried about it. He may get up and running a little later than everyone else, but betting online does not nearly compare to the entertainment value of being with your friends.
Keri-Anne Shea, a patron of the restaurant, told News 8, “We have so much fun with Sunday football and Monday night football and Thursday night football. Honestly, if I can come down here to Shea’s with my people, and they can egg me on and tell me what to do, I’m absolutely going to do it.”
The Connecticut Lottery is aiming to roll out retail and online sports betting next week.
Other locations in Connecticut will have to wait until at least Oct. 7 to kick off online sports betting. The casinos are allowed to go live early because they’re on sovereign land, so they can start placing bets in person earlier.
Watch News 8 at 5 to check the latest updates.