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.
Players looking to gamble in the convenience of their own home can use our list of Connecticut online casino recommendations to find great online blackjack, slots, craps, and video poker games.
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Foxwoods Resort Casinos
Land-based gambling in Connecticut is all about tribal casinos, which offer all kinds of slots and table games. The Constitution State is fairly popular among poker enthusiasts even though it doesn’t have any commercial card rooms. Connecticut allows pari-mutuel horse race betting and charitable gambling, but the local Indian tribes aren’t allowed to operate their own online real money gaming sites. Connecticut has a state-controlled lottery, but lotto tickets can’t be purchased over the internet.
Connecticut doesn’t allow casino establishments to be built or operated within the state, but due to the 1988 Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, the Pequot and Mohegan Native American tribes are exempt from this prohibition. Both of these tribes host hugely popular casinos.
Since opening its rooms in 1992, the Foxwoods Casino located on the Pequot reservation has grown into one of the largest casinos in the US, garnering international attention. It features over 4,800 slot machines, 400 table games, and a massive poker room with over 100 card tables. The Foxwoods Casino is actually a collection of six smaller casinos, each offering a full range of slot machines, table games, and keno.
The Mohegan Sun Casino located on the Mohegan reservation isn’t as large as the Foxwoods Casino but still offers an excellent spread of casino games – 5,000 slot machines, 300+ table games, and 42 live poker tables. To compete with Foxwoods, Mohegan Sun has expanded its casino to include popular music venues and restaurants.
Ownership of any slot machine, regardless of its age, is illegal in Connecticut.
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.
As the US Supreme Court deliberated over allowing sports legalization on the state level, Connecticut introduced anticipatory laws for sports betting implementation in 2017. Once the US Supreme Court made its ruling to permit states to regulate sports gaming, Governor Dannel Malloy unexpectedly called a special session for the legislature to restart its discussions on sports betting. As a result, legal sports betting in Connecticut will not happen until 2019/20.
Many legislators and citizens feel that Connecticut’s loss of momentum on the legalization of sports gambling hurts the state. The Pequot and Mohegan tribes have begun to push for exclusive rights to sports betting.
There is a high chance of sports wagering legalization in Connecticut, but it’s hard to predict when it will be implemented.
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.
Connecticut law does not currently differentiate between wagers made on electronic sports (eSports) and traditional sports games. As a result, gambling on the results of eSports matches is illegal in Connecticut.
Daily fantasy sports (DFS) wagering is in the final stages of legalization after Senate Bill 1502 successfully passed in late 2017. Currently, the only remaining hurdle to DFS betting and implementation are the Native American tribes. Once a deal is reached with the tribes, DFS gaming will become legal.
In addition to its burgeoning casinos, Connecticut offers a wide range of pari-mutuel wagering options on horse races, including:
Wagers can be made both on-track or off-track at licensed simulcast facilities.
Gambling on dog racing is also legal in Connecticut. Players may also place their bets on out-of-state dog races. The only greyhound racing track in Connecticut is the Shoreline Star Greyhound Park located in Bridgeport, which hosts dog races nearly every day of the year.
Not only is poker legal in Connecticut; the state’s poker scene is enormous.
Both the Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun casinos offer an extensive selection of live poker tables. Notably, the Foxwoods Casino attracts some of the most prominent poker players in the world by hosting prestigious poker tournaments such as the World Poker Tour.
Players can also host social poker games in their private residences as long as nobody generates revenue and all the players have a relationship outside of the poker table.
While the number of poker sites accepting Connecticut players has diminished since Black Friday, there are still online poker rooms that are both safe and reputable.
In 1972, the Connecticut Lottery Corporation formed the Connecticut state lottery. Since its inception, the lottery has generated over $8 billion in state revenue.
The Connecticut lottery offers popular multi-state lotteries, including:
Many in-state lotteries are also available, such as:
Connecticut claims 28% of all lottery winnings in the form of state taxes, which then go to the Connecticut General Fund. The majority of the General Fund is used to pay Medicaid programs.
Charity gaming events are legal in Connecticut, allowing unique wagers on games such as duck and frog racing. Bingo is permitted anywhere in the state as long as the stakes are lower than $1 and the prizes are under $5. The Foxwoods Casino originally started as a Bingo hall and has maintained it since its inception.
Popular Bingo halls include:
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.