Connecticut’s Department of Consumer Protection has announced that the state will begin the soft launch period for its online sports betting and gaming market this week. This soft launch will be carried out for seven days and is poised to start on Tuesday, October 12th, with a restriction on operating hours and the volume of customers.
The DCP announcement came on Friday, indicating that the Connecticut Lottery Corporation (CLC), Mashantucket Pequot Tribe, and the Mohegan Tribal Nation will participate in the market test run. After completing the soft launch, online wagering and gaming programs for the trio will then make a state-wide debut on October 19th.
Following the announcement, Michelle Seagull, the Commissioner of the DCP, shared a few words to say:
“We appreciate the hard work of our licensees and their teams, as well as the team at DCP, for their diligence in ensuring these platforms are compliant with the regulations approved by the legislature. As long as no issues arise, we have told the licensees they may move forward with the seven-day soft launch required in the regulations. Once the soft launch is complete, online gaming will open state-wide.”
Key Elements for Connecticut’s Forthcoming Soft Launch
Before jumping into the details, it’s worth highlighting that the CLC will be following slightly different parameters during the trial run compared to the state’s two tribes.
Per the DCP’s briefing, the CLC will offer online sports betting within state lines through its partnered platform, Rush Street Interactive’s PlaySugarHouse. The Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes, on the other hand, will have a test run of both online sports wagering and online casino gaming. The two tribes teamed up with DraftKings and FanDuel, respectively, to offer sports betting in the Nutmeg State.
For all three parties, the number of customers participating in the trial run will be limited to 750 each, all of whom were registered last week on Friday. When it comes to iGaming, the tribes will only be permitted to offer a limited selection of over 100 DCP-approved games during the one-week trial period. Live dealer, or peer-to-peer iGaming titles won’t be part of this soft launch.
As for operating hours, customers will be allowed to place both sports wagering and online casino gaming bets at designated times during the day. On Tuesday and Wednesday, the test run will take place from 3:00 pm to 11:00 pm. Meanwhile, for Thursday and Friday, the participants will be allowed to bet for a few extra hours (compared to the first two days) between 12:00 pm and 11:59 pm. Finally, the sports betting and iGaming activities will run around the clock for the remainder of the soft launch period for 24 hours.
The soft launch will ultimately be closed on 11:59 pm on October 18th, immediately pave the way for the official launch of online sports betting and gaming starting from 12:01 am on October 19th.
A First for Connecticut’s Department of Consumer Protection
Not many US states have unveiled their internet-based gaming markets with a soft launch, but it isn’t an uncommon occurrence. Pennsylvania, for instance, conducted a 3-day soft launch before the formal market debut. Interestingly, unlike most US states where online gaming was legalized, the Nutmeg State’s DCP has absolutely no iGaming experience as it’s a consumer-first regulatory agency.
In a correspondence with Sports Handle, Kaitlyn Krasselt, the DCP’s Director of Communications, said:
“In Connecticut, we don’t have any of this– it’s all brand new. And it’s not a gradual thing: We’re jumping into something new altogether. Our primary goal is to make sure that businesses can operate in a fair marketplace and that consumers are protected, so we just want to make sure that things work the way they are supposed to. We’re also making sure all of the responsible gaming parts of the regulation are working. So, we want to make sure, for example, that people can’t sign up accounts for their kids or deceased relatives.”
At the same time, the Nutmeg State is also pulling off another rare combination launch by entering into both digital sports betting and iGaming at a go. This dual launch feat has only been achieved by only one state in the USA-regulated gaming market – Michigan. On January 22nd, the Wolverine State managed to debut both online sports wagering and online casino gaming at the same time.
15 Retail Sportsbooks to Open in Connecticut
On top of going head-to-head against DraftKings and FanDuel in their tribal affiliations with its CLC-connected PlaySugarHouse sportsbook platform, Rush Street will be having a lot more action in the Nutmeg State. Owing to its partnership with Connecticut’s Lottery Corporation, Rush Street received approval to introduce up to 15 more retail sports betting facilities across the state. So far, the operator has announced 10 of the 15 venues, which are:
- Two Bobby V venues in Stamford and Windsor Locks
- Sports Haven in New Haven
- Winners off-track betting shops in Hartford, Manchester, Milford, New Britain, Norwalk, Torrington, and Waterbury
In a press release, Richard Schwartz, Chief Executive Officer of Rush Street Interactive, said:
“We are thrilled to begin the much-anticipated launch of the PlaySugarHouse online sportsbook with the Connecticut Lottery and bring our award-winning product to players in Connecticut. We are confident that with our huge volume of betting content, wide range of deposit and withdrawal methods, real-time cash-out approvals, and best-in-class customer service, Connecticut players will come to prefer PlaySugarHouse when wagering on their favorite sports.”