DraftKings Banks On Gambling Expansion In Connecticut With Market Access Deal

Posted on December 8, 2020 - Last Updated on January 21, 2021

Just in case, DraftKings has a deal in place.

The legal framework of gambling in nearby Connecticut may not allow the daily fantasy sports power and rising sports betting operator to realize the full value of a new partnership in the state yet. But should that ever change, DraftKings will be ready.

The deal with Foxwoods Resort Casino covers the online trifecta of casino games, daily fantasy sports contests and sports betting. This could provide the company with a path to dominance in the online gambling market in the northeast.

What this deal means for Connecticut gambling right now

The casino, operated by the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation, now has an official DFS provider. DraftKings will also offer online casino games and sports betting should circumstances ever provide for that.

“Partnering with DraftKings, the most prominent name in sports betting, reinforces the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe’s position as a leader in the gaming and entertainment industry,” said Rodney Butler, chairman of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe.

“We’ve proven our ability to shape the future of gaming time and time again, and now we’re ready to drive sports wagering and online gaming for the state of Connecticut. Working through the tribal gaming compacts, we will help bolster our economy with much-needed revenue and virtual entertainment.”

The two brands will combine to offer DFS contests in Connecticut starting Dec. 13. It’s uncertain when the agreement will expand to online casino and sports betting, however. The current gaming compact between the state and the tribe doesn’t provide for either.

The two parties could negotiate new terms of that compact at any time. This would allow DraftKings to offer either or both products on tribal land.

But in order to offer online gambling statewide, the state legislature would have to act. DraftKings isn’t shy about sharing that as an ambition.

“The national expansion of regulated sports betting is among our top strategic priorities,” said Matt Kalish, co-founder and president of DraftKings. “DraftKings today is live with mobile sports betting in 10 states, more than any other operator in the US, and teaming up with the tribe will allow us to extend our reach even further.”

DraftKings’ path to market dominance is more clear

Should DraftKings be first to market in Connecticut, it could strengthen its position as the dominant operator in the region. It’s already off to a great start on the east coast.

The compact between Connecticut and the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe gives the tribe exclusivity in offering most types of gambling in the state. There’s no guarantee that would remain the case for online gaming in a revised compact. But, if mobile gaming is included, DraftKings could have a monopoly in the state.

DraftKings enjoys similar operations in New Hampshire as the state lottery’s sole provider for online sports betting. Additionally, DraftKings has a strong market presence in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

DraftKings also offers DFS games in Massachusetts, Maine, New York and Vermont. DraftKings is likely to be bullish on expanding its offerings in those states should opportunities arise.

For now, DraftKings has its sights set on Connecticut gambling as far as the northeast region goes. It may only be a matter of time until state residents can legally wager on sporting events at Foxwoods.

Photo by AP / Susan Haigh
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Derek Helling

Derek Helling is a freelance journalist who resides in Chicago. He is a 2013 graduate of the University of Iowa and covers the intersections of sports with business and the law.

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