June 15, 2024

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Tribes welcome online gamblers, new chapter in state history

Oct. 20—They once tapped maple trees for syrup.

On Tuesday, the Mashantucket Pequots tapped Connecticut’s online gambling market as never before, joining the Mohegans in the launch of computer software enabling those 21 years of age and up to wager on professional and college sports and the usual array of games and slots available at Foxwoods Resort Casino and Mohegan Sun.

The Connecticut Lottery Corp. also began taking online bets on sports.

Both DraftKings, Foxwoods’ online partner, and FanDuel, Mohegan Sun’s partner, reported the first bets placed on their apps, which went live at 6 a.m., involved Tuesday night’s playoff game between the Atlanta Braves and the Los Angeles Dodgers. By 9:30 a.m., the Foxwoods/DraftKings app had taken thousands of bets, Matt Kalish, the company’s president, said during a virtual news briefing.

He said the site will offer bettors tens of thousands of betting options daily.

Mashantucket tribal Chairman Rodney Butler said during the briefing it was fitting that Monday was the 38th anniversary of his tribe’s federal recognition, which enabled it to open Foxwoods in 1996.

“Today, we’re launching this new chapter on gaming in the state … an example for all of Indian Country,” he said. “We’ve gone from tapping maple trees for syrup … to now, one of the largest gaming organizations in the world.”

Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun launched onsite sportsbooks in temporary locations Sept. 30 and expect to open much larger, grander facilities in the casinos next month.

Butler promised Foxwoods’ permanent sportsbook will be “one of the most amazing sportsbook venues that you’ll ever see in this country and possibly the world.”

He described traffic at the temporary Foxwoods sportsbook, where bets can be placed at self-serve kiosks and at a teller-manned window “slow and steady.” Freestanding kiosks scattered throughout the casino are doing more business, he said.

“It’s that experience of having skin in the game,” Kalish said, remarking on the allure of sports betting. “It’s something that’s special to tens of millions of people throughout the U.S., it’s part of the culture.”

DraftKings has an eight-figure customer base, he said, evidence that if offers a “very mass-market, mainstream product … that appeals to all demographics. … I don’t think there has been any real demonstration that consumers on the mobile app are substituting that for the retail experience. Some things (about the casino environment) can’t be replicated online.”

Butler said the introduction of online gaming in New Jersey and Pennsylvania showed it “really expands the ecosystem of gaming” and has little or no impact on business at brick-and-mortar casinos.

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