The ability of states to pass regulations regarding online gaming, especially online poker, have been in existence since 2011. In 2013, three states rapidly passed online poker into law. But it has taken almost eight years for that number to double, with the state of Connecticut becoming the seventh state to pass legislation authorizing online poker inside its borders this last week.
Connecticut Governor Signs Bill into Law on Friday
Legislators in Connecticut wasted little time passing the new bill. On Tuesday, the Connecticut House took up HB 6451, which was a bill that would effect major changes to gaming in the state. After some cursory debate on the issue, the Connecticut House approved the measure by a bipartisan 122-21 vote.
Thursday saw HB 6451 move on to the Connecticut Senate for their consideration. The vote was nearly as decisive as it had been in the House, with the vote coming down 28-6 and sending it on to Governor Ned Lamont for his signature. Lamont, who was a huge proponent of expanded casino gaming in the state, signed off on HB 6451 – it was Lamont who had, actually, negotiated the compact between all parties involved.
“I just put my signature on legislation establishing a system to legalize sports wagering and online gaming in Connecticut,” Lamont wrote on Twitter, accompanied by a photo of him signing the bill into law. “We’re on the cusp of providing a modernized gaming experience that positions us for success into the future. Thanks to our tribal partners for their collaboration.”
The Mohegan and Mashantucket Pequot Indian tribes, who operate the two major casinos in the state (Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods, respectively) benefitted from the new regulations in being able to offer all forms of casino gaming. Additionally, the tribes also earned the opportunity to offer sports betting on their properties and online gaming and poker through servers located on their tribal lands. They did not, however, get the exclusive ability to offer online casino gaming, which was a major bone of contention in the Connecticut legislature.
With the passage of HB 6451 into law, Connecticut could conceivably offer sports betting as soon as July 1. That will be held up by the federal government, however. The U. S. Department of the Interior, who has jurisdiction over tribal gaming, has to sign off on the deal for it to be allowed.
Online Poker Still Lags Behind
Even with the passage of online poker regulations in Connecticut, the activity falls far behind other online gaming options available to states. Sports betting was not legalized to the states until the U. S. Supreme Court ruled that the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) was unconstitutional in 2018. Three short years later, sports betting in some form or fashion will be legal in 30 states with Connecticut’s passage (earlier this month, Florida also offered sports betting). Another gaming outlet, daily fantasy sports (DFS), can operate in 41 states, with 19 states formally legalizing the activity.
It will be a busy summer at the Department of the Interior. The Interior Department has 45 days to decide on whether to allow for the expansion of gaming. In Florida, there are possibilities of legal challenges that might delay the implementation of the new laws, but Connecticut’s situation appears to be much more accepting of the new gaming outlets and should go into effect almost immediately after approval from the feds.