When you think of the more conservative parts of the United States, most people tend to quickly think of states in the South and Midwest. What most are interested to find out is that New England is a fairly conservative area as well, especially when it comes to gambling and casinos. Though things have changed in recent years, you will quickly learn that Connecticut, like many other New England states, is still in the infancy of its casino gambling development.
While the number of official casinos in Connecticut may be small, there are quite a few other sites that allow for off-track betting. In all, there is no shortage of gambling options for visitors to or residents of Connecticut.
Foxwoods Resort Casinos
In Connecticut, there are currently no casinos licensed or sanctioned by the state, per se. What exists instead are a few casinos owned and operated by Native Americans and located on Native American land. For those who may be unfamiliar with US law, land governed and owned by Native Americans is considered to be, by in large, sovereign. What this means is that the tribes are able to govern themselves and forge laws that are the rule of the land within these Native American territories. As such, resort casinos like Foxwoods are able to exist and thrive in a state that otherwise does not tend to look fondly upon gambling.
Though these are not casinos, they are worth mentioning. In addition to the 2 Native American casinos that exist in the state, there are 15 off-track betting locations. While many sites will refer to these places as casinos, this is far from the truth. As opposed to table games and slots, these off-track betting sites are reserved solely for horse and dog race betting. Other than that, you will find no real forms of casino gambling at these sites.
When it comes to the history of gambling in Connecticut, there really isn’t much to speak of. Up until the early 1970s, all forms of gambling—and especially casino gambling—were considered to be in illegal. Then, in 1971, the floodgates opened and a variety of gambling forms became legal all at once. In what seemed to be a flash, Connecticut went from having no forms of gambling to hosting a statewide lottery as well as betting on horse/dog racing both at the track and at off-track sites like those discussed above. By 1972, the gambling landscape of the state had changed significantly.
In the early 1980s, there were efforts made by those in the state government to bring a casino to the economically distressed town of Bridgeport, but these proposed measures failed on a few separate occasions. In lieu of the absence of actual casinos, Connecticut state law did allow for casino games to be played for real money so long as the proceeds went to charitable organizations. These events quickly became known as Las Vegas Nights, however that law was later repealed.
As for the existence of the two casinos in the state today, that was a movement led by the Mashantucket Pequots. In the late 1980s they approached the government about the establishment of casinos on their lands. After many long court battles it was finally decided that Native Americans were, in fact, able to govern how they see fit within their sovereign lands. The tribes wanted more, though, and in 1992 lobbied the government to allow for slot games to exist in their casinos. The state quickly agreed so long as the tribes were willing to relinquish 25% of all slot revenues to the state. This was agreed upon and, as they say, the rest is history. Because the National Indian Gaming Act prohibited states from taxing tribal casino games, it has never been referred to as a tax, but rather a contribution of sorts.
Since the establishment of Connecticut’s only 2 casinos in the early 1990s, there have since been no new casinos added. It must be noted that despite their relatively obscure locations, both the Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods casinos are amongst the largest casinos in the world as far as square footage is concerned.