DraftKings and FanDuel, in partnership with the Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun casinos, respectively, are preparing to begin taking in-person sports bets on Thursday in Connecticut, according to the state’s Department of Consumer Protection. On Tuesday morning, the agency approved sports betting licenses for the Mohegan and Mashantucket Pequot tribes, as well as the Connecticut Lottery, and the expectation is that the first bets will be placed sometime Thursday.
The launch will not include digital wagering or online casino, and the lottery won’t be in the mix for the retail launch. Under the new law, the lottery can have a digital platform and 15 retail locations. Rush Street Interactive will operate the lottery’s platform, likely under the SugarHouse brand to start with.
According to a DCP spokesperson, live online/mobile wagering could start as early as next week. When that happens, all three platforms will be able to go live with sports betting in a soft-launch mode, which will allow the regulator to monitor and test systems in the early going. During soft launch, only a limited number of people will have access to the platforms, which will not be live around the clock. According to the regulations, the soft launch is set for seven days.
Permanent books won’t be open
The tribes both needed approval of their compacts from the U.S. Department of the Interior and to have their compacts published in the Federal Register ahead of launch. The Mashantucket Pequots got that Monday and the Mohegans’ pact was published two weeks earlier.
Both DraftKings and FanDuel are building out sportsbooks in existing casino spaces, and it’s unlikely that either will open its permanent location Thursday, but both will have temporary wagering locations available.
Below is a taste of what the permanent books will look like when they open.
DraftKings at Foxwoods
Mashantucket Pequot Chairman Rodney Butler told Sports Handle earlier this month that a ribbon cutting is set for mid-October, but if wagering went live before then, DraftKings would have kiosks available in the race book and around the casino floor.
$DKNG The Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation & DraftKings today announce retail sports betting in Connecticut will begin on 30th September at Foxwoods Resort Casino 👀
— AS Investing 🌐 (@AS_Investing) September 29, 2021
Butler said the new retail sportsbook will be located in the middle of all the action, between the Great Cedar and Grand Pequot casinos. The two-story space will feature floor-to-ceiling video walls, teller windows, kiosks, and seating areas.
“Ours is going to be integrated; it’s going to be an experience of the resort,” he said. “It’s in the heart of our facility. You’re going to see it and be excited by it. So we think the experience of what you’ll see … will draw people.”
FanDuel at Mohegan Sun
FanDuel isn’t planning to open its permanent book until sometime this winter, but when wagering starts, the company will go live with four teller windows and 41 kiosks in Mohegan Sun’s existing sports bar, according to the company.
FanDuel representatives say the permanent retail sportsbook will have “great energy” and the “technology, viewing, ease, and comfort” will draw and keep bettors in the space. The goal is to incorporate “key elements” that reflect the Mohegan vibe, but the book will also be cutting edge. The Mohegan book will feature a 15-foot LED video wall so bettors will become “engulfed in images,” said Jose Torres, director of designing and construction of sportsbooks.
“The screen will be the showstopper,” Torres said. “The LED video wall will be able to wrap around, so you will be able to see from anywhere, and at the bar there will also be a massive video wall. Within the LED system, we can partition and have odds. … Where the kiosks are, there will be a video ribbon so you can see the odds.”
The sportsbook will be located in the old race book in the Casino of the Earth. The race book will remain in the space, but it will have a smaller footprint, as FanDuel will dedicate much of the space to the sportsbook. The venue was originally a casino entrance, Torres said, so the architecture is unique and features soaring ceilings, which will accommodate the massive video boards.