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Connecticut – USA Casinos

Connecticut

When Atlantic City began hosting casinos in the 1970s, New Jersey probably envisioned a situation in which they would be the only game in the Northeast for at least a couple decades. But by the middle of the 1980s, another nearby competitor had emerged: Connecticut.

Connecticut doesn’t have a huge number of casinos, nor have they yet jumped into the regulated Internet gaming waters. But the two Native American resorts that are located in the Nutmeg State are among the biggest and most successful ventures around. With increasing competition in the region, however, the state may soon expand its casino offerings in an attempt to hold on to its share of the gambling pie.

Free Play and Real Money Options

At the moment, unlike the Garden State, there is no regulated online gambling available here. The closest products are free play websites that are operated by the two Native American tribes that own resorts in Connecticut; however, no real money can be wagered on these sites. The topic of Internet gaming has come up in the past – particularly from the tribes themselves – but there hasn’t been any real movement in government on the issue, and because of that, it will likely be a minimum of a few years before any licensed online casinos in Connecticut could potentially be opened.

Given the lack of locally licensed sites, most players instead choose to play with overseas operators. These are entirely legal for people to signup, deposit and play for real money at. However, because they are not licensed in the US, they are unable to offer slots by the top developers. However, users still have access to thousands of different slot machines, as well as a full suite of table games, keno and other specialty games.

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Huge Live Scene

Live gaming in Connecticut was a result of a 1983 Indian Land Claims Settlement that transferred about 800 acres of the former Mashantucket Pequot reservation back to the tribe. The move set the stage for the building of the Foxwoods Resort, a facility that would eventually become the largest casino in the world.

However, in the beginning, the resort was more modest. When it opened in 1986, Foxwoods was only a bingo hall, a feature that remains as a part of the facility today. In 1992, table games were added to the mix, and a year later, slot machines were brought in to complete the transition to a full casino environment. In 1995, a poker room was added; since then, Foxwoods has been host to many World Poker Tour and World Series of Poker Circuit events, and the room has grown to be the third largest in the world.

In 2008, a further expansion brought a new tower with a new building to the resort: the MGM Grand. However, the timing of the opening could hardly have been worse, as the major recession that hit that year put a serious dent in gaming revenues. Since then, MGM has left the project, and the area is now known as the Fox Tower.

The second Indian casino in the state, Mohegan Sun, was opened in 1996. Along with a full range of offerings, the resort also features the Mohegan Sun Arena, which not only hosts some major events, but is also the home of a WNBA professional women’s basketball team, the Connecticut Sun.

Beyond those two destinations, gambling has a relatively small footprint in this state. There is a state-run lottery, but there are no commercial gaming venues at the moment, and no horse racing industry to speak of (though both Native American operations do include race books that simulcast races from around the world for bettors).

Future Developments

As of 2015, Connecticut’s gambling industry has been struggling for some time. While they still bring in rather healthy revenues, those numbers have come down significantly since the recession, and the increase in regional competition has only made the situation worse. This is not only disappointing for the tribes themselves, but also for the state government: the state takes 25% of all slot revenue, which has provided a nice boost for the annual budget.

But as revenues declined, there appeared to be a growing appetite for gaming expansion in the state. The coming resorts in Massachusetts – particularly one being built by MGM in Springfield – provided the final straw, with both the Indian tribes and legislators agreeing that something needed to be done in order to protect the already shrinking gambling industry in the state.

While Internet gaming may someday be part of this picture (the tribal websites that offer free games were likely designed to be ready to go should online gambling in Connecticut be approved in the future), the immediate focus has been on adding more live action.

In 2015, the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes agreed to an unusual partnership, in which the two groups would combine forces to co-own and operate a third casino in the state. This venture would be placed strategically north of Hartford, in a location that would hopefully encourage Connecticut gamblers to stay in state rather than continue traveling north on I-91 into Massachusetts towards the coming MGM Springfield, which is likely to open in 2018.

It is still unclear where the new facility would be built. But several towns have expressed an interest in hosting a resort, including East Hartford and Enfield, neither of which are far over the border from Massachusetts. The move has also prompted a lawsuit from MGM, with the gaming giant saying that the decision to award the new resort to the Indian tribes without allowing for any competition violates equal protection laws.

On a less dramatic note, Connecticut may also be moving toward allowing keno to be played statewide. The game is already offered at both Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun, which could have potentially caused some pushback from the tribes, as they have the right to hold jurisdiction over any casino games in the state. However, a recent agreement would reserve 25% of all keno revenue for the Native Americans, and that combined with a bill approved in the summer of 2015 makes it seem likely that it will only be a matter of time before keno can be played statewide.

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