Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont described the advent of legal sports betting in his state as “a long time coming,” but a late announcement and midweek debut made for a modest audience for such wagers on opening day Thursday.
The appetite for wagering, even with the pending Sunday Night Football game featuring the regional favorite New England Patriots against ex-Pats quarterback Tom Brady, produced light action at the Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun casinos that, for the moment, are the only places taking bets.
The love for the Pats, an employee at one of the books said, produced a majority of the action on the team, which is getting 6.5 points vs. the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Pats backers wagered “even more on the moneyline” for New England to pull off an upset, the employee said.
Lamont placed a successful $50 wager on the WNBA’s Connecticut Sun to win a playoff semifinal matchup on Thursday night over the Chicago Sky. He then ventured to Foxwoods, where he correctly ventured to win $20 on the New York Yankees to win a game over the Toronto Blue Jays and another $20 on the Patriots to win on Sunday.
“I bet my heart. I don’t know what the odds are,” Lamont said at Foxwoods.
The two casinos won’t have the market cornered for long, as the tribes also seek to launch online sports betting sometime in October. The state lottery, meanwhile, is expected to roll out sports betting kiosks at the first few of 10 planned venues next week, with online sports betting from that provider also on the way.
Finding the sportsbooks
At Mohegan Sun, President and General Manager Jeff Hamilton said, “There’s a lot of table players that also like to bet on sports, so it gives them a reason to come and maybe they make a wager on sports, but they also will play a table game. They’ll play slots or they’ll go to our restaurants.
“What we see in other jurisdictions is that when you have sports betting, it also increases the revenue for your other revenue sources as well.”
Foxwoods CEO Jason Guyotte added, “Brick-and-mortar retail sportsbook actually does drive incremental gaming revenue, so we hope it does play a part in increasing the amenities we have here at the resort and opportunities for employment here.”
At Mohegan Sun, ex-New York Jets wide receiver Wayne Chrebet placed $20 on the moneyline for his Jets to upset the Tennessee Titans, while former Patriot Darius Butler tried the same amount with the same wager on his Pats to upset Tampa Bay on Sunday.
Each casino had a temporary sportsbook open on Thursday, with permanent, larger options available in the coming months.
FanDuel’s self-betting kiosks look identical to those at the Meadowlands Racetrack in New Jersey, except for a Mohegan Sun log-in on the main screen. At the giant Foxwoods resort, it is important to park in the Rainmaker Casino garage to avoid potentially long walks with dozens of directional signs on the floor of the sprawling property.
Also on tap for Connecticut residents and visitors in coming weeks is online casino gaming, taxed at 18% of revenue, compared to the 13.75% tax on sports betting.