There are now seven players in the state-by-state online poker industry in the States of America. Connecticut became the seventh state to open the doors for online poker inside its borders earlier this month. However, there has also been molasses-slow response to this new development as there have been no operators stepping up to offer their product to Connecticut residents.
No Action Since February 1
As of February 1, the state of Connecticut has been open for business as to online poker. Also featured along with these new regulations was the opportunity for sports betting to be offered to citizens of Connecticut. While sports betting has been able to take off well, to this date there have been zero takers when it comes to offering online poker to willing customers.
The state regulations are not exactly anything that has not been enacted in other locales. For an online poker product to be offered, the company must partner with one of the two Indian tribes that call Connecticut home. These tribes, the Mohegan Tribe and the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation, are a major part of the casino gaming scene in the state. The Mohegans own and operate the popular Mohegan Sun Casino and Resort, while the Mashantucket own and operate Foxwoods Resort Casino.
For sports betting, Mohegan Sun has hooked up with FanDuel, while Foxwoods drew DraftKings as their sportsbook partner. The bottom line is, however, that no online poker operation has chosen to contact either tribe to move forward with an online poker offering. PokerStars, partypoker, 888Poker…none of the top players in the industry have stepped up to enter the Connecticut market.
Is Population the Problem?
Why hasn’t neither the tribal casinos nor the online poker players come to the plate yet in Connecticut for online poker? What might be thought of as a simple answer is that you need to have a population base to be able to even crack the seal on an online poker operation without the ability to compact with other states.
Connecticut is one of the smallest states in the States of America in area, but it does have a decent population base. With a population of 3.6 million, that is larger than what both Nevada and Delaware had in place when they went “live” with online poker operations. According to 2020 census figures, 20.4% of that population is under eighteen, which would rule them out of consideration for online gaming. With at least 2.5 million people eligible for action, it does not seem to be a customer volume issue.
Could it be that the tribes themselves are a bit apprehensive? Currently, the Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods are the only casinos operating in the state. It is possible that the old (and long disproven) fear of “online will hurt our live action” is coming to the fore. This has been disproven long ago; in fact, in some cases it has been shown that online gaming and poker provides further incentive for people to come to the “brick and mortar” casinos.
Is it possible that the online poker rooms are not wanting to get in the game? This is a much more likely reason for the lack of action in Connecticut for online poker. Although you do have a couple million eligible residents in Connecticut, it would be a sizeable expenditure for a PokerStars or a partypoker to enter the game, and for what reward?
Nevada, a state of comparable size to Connecticut, has to compact with both New Jersey and Delaware to be able to eke out a 350-player average over seven days (according to PokerScout.com). Without the additional support of its two compact partners, it is exceedingly possible that Nevada might not even crack one hundred players if it were left on its own – not financially feasible under any circumstances. This may be what the online poker rooms are looking at with Connecticut, and it is a reality that is quite likely.
Although there may be a customer base that is waiting for online poker in Connecticut, there is also the economics that must be examined. If it is not going to be in the fiscal interests of the Indian tribes and the online poker operators to partner together, then it is unlikely that, even though it is legally offered, it is going to happen.