Under Connecticut’s new sports betting law, which went into effect today, daily fantasy operators were at risk of having to pull out of the state, but Sports Handle has learned that both DraftKings and FanDuel have secured partnerships that will allow them to continue to operate.
DraftKings had a sports betting partnership in place with the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe, which owns and operates the Foxwoods Casino. FanDuel, which does not currently have market access for sports betting in Connecticut, appeared to be left out in the cold, but sources say the company was granted a provisional license and will continue to operate its daily fantasy platform through a partnership with the Mohegan Tribe. Whether or not that partnership will extend to sports betting is still unclear.
A spokesperson from Connecticut’s Department of Consumer Protection (DCP) confirmed that both tribes were granted provisional licenses, effective at midnight July 1. The licenses will expire on Sept. 30 or “or the date on which the more comprehensive licenses provided for in the May legislation have been issued,” according to a statement from Gov. Ned Lamont’s office.
“This short-term step allows for the continuation of fantasy sports in Connecticut as we continue to move forward to modernize our gaming landscape in Connecticut,” Lamont said in the statement. “Thanks to our partnership with the Mohegan Tribe, the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe, and the Connecticut Lottery Corporation, our state will have a competitive, and nation-leading model for wagering both in-person and online.”
The maximum number of digital sportsbooks or daily fantasy platforms that could operate in the state is three. The new law allows for digital platforms through both tribes as well as the Connecticut Lottery. The lottery has not announced if it has selected a sports betting or daily fantasy partner, but PrizePicks, Monkey Knife Fight (now owned by Bally’s), and Underdog Fantasy have all operated in the state.
Other DFS companies shut out so far
According to the DCP, the only two companies currently authorized to operate in Connecticut are DraftKings and FanDuel, and any other company would “need to enter into a contract with one of the tribal casinos or the Connecticut Lottery Corporation in order to operate fantasy sports in Connecticut.”
Underdog Fantasy, based in Brooklyn, NY, counts tech millionaire and NBA Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, former NBA superstar Kevin Durant, and Detroit Lions quarterback Jared Goff among its investors. The company was live in Connecticut up until today. PrizePicks, another DFS company that was operating in the state, previously announced that it would pull out of Connecticut after trying to mount a campaign to save DFS in the state:
Alright folks, let's rally together again and #SaveFantasySportsInCT!
Connecticut members, your ability to play paid fantasy sports contests is in SERIOUS jeopardy. All CT fantasy sports players should DEFINITELY fill the link out below. Even if you're not in CT, help out! ⬇️⬇️ https://t.co/3JzyZonKQ2
— PrizePicks (@PrizePicks) May 20, 2021
Monkey Knife Fight, now owned by Bally’s, was also operating before July 1.
“We’re disappointed Connecticut fantasy sports players will not be able to continue to play in many of the contests they’ve grown to love and hope the state can find a solution to allow more operators to offer contests,” a representative from the Fantasy Sports & Gaming Association shared with Sports Handle. “It’s encouraging that some of our members companies will be able to offer contests without interruption in the meantime.”
DraftKings, FanDuel had to pay back fees
The new law requires that DFS companies pay what amount to back taxes in order to continue operating. According to the DCP, DraftKings was required to pay $832,383 to continue operating and rival FanDuel $325,914.91.
As sports betting works its way from legal to live in Connecticut — and the U.S. Department of the Interior must approve the state-tribal compacts before that can happen — keeping DFS alive is of paramount importance to DraftKings and FanDuel. In states where they operate DFS, both companies rely on their existing DFS databases to get off to a fast start in terms of signing up sports betting customers.
The goal, at least in Connecticut lawmaker’s eyes, is for live sports betting to be available in Connecticut before the end of the year. In addition to the three digital platforms that will be allowed, DraftKings has plans for a retail sportsbook at Foxwoods, the lottery is entitled to open 15 retail locations, and though it hasn’t announced a partner or plan yet, Mohegan Sun can have brick-and-mortar sportsbook. The Mohegans on Wednesday announced that they have launched a new iGaming division and platform.