The History of Gambling in Connecticut’s Cities – Going From Tribal to Internet Casinos

Connecticut is currently shifting toward becoming a US state with a fairly laid-back approach toward various forms of socially accepted gambling activities, such as casino games, sports betting, poker, bingo, and lotteries.

Connecticut is one of only seven states offering online casino gambling. The Constitution State (aka the Nutmeg State) is also home to a couple of land-based tribal casinos.

Let’s dive straight in and take a quick look at the brief history and evolution of casino gambling in Connecticut and how the trend has shifted from gambling at land-based to online casinos.

What are the gambling laws like in Connecticut?

Gambling laws in the United States vary greatly from one state to the next. Although certain gambling activities are legally permitted under federal law, each state can prohibit or regulate gambling within its borders, which leaves things open to interpretation.

It is one of the many reasons there is such a mix of laws and attitudes towards gambling across the country.

When it comes to online and interstate gambling, there are many restrictions in place, which make it impossible for operators to ply their trade in certain states, although those same operators are free to do so in other states.

This complex landscape often forces players in certain states to play at offshore iGaming sites that operate outside of US jurisdiction.

In Connecticut, most forms of gambling are illegal. The only gambling activities that are legally permitted are those authorized by state authorities.

Licensing and regulation in the state all come under the watchful eye of the DCP (Department of Consumer Protection).

Sports betting activities and online casino games, for example, have officially been allowed in Connecticut since October 2021.

The main forms of gambling broadly allowed across the state before online sports betting and casino gaming were casino games at tribal casinos on Native American land, as well as state lottery, charity gaming, and pari-mutuel betting.

Horse racing is legally permitted, but Connecticut doesn’t have any operational racetrack venues.

At the two main tribal casinos, games of chance and table games are allowed. People living in the state in 2024 can also now play at two state-authorized real money online casinos in Connecticut.

The two tribes that have gained federal recognition are the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe and the Mohegan Tribe, and they both operate under the federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act.

A brief history of casino gambling in Connecticut

Legally permitted gambling activities on Native American land began in 1986 on the Mashantucket Pequot reservation. A high-stakes bingo venue was allowed to open because CT state bingo regulations did not apply on the tribe’s sovereign land.

Over the coming years, the venue gradually added several classic table & card games before expanding its operation to include slot machines in 1993. In 1992, the federal government officially recognized the Mohegan Tribe, and then, in 1996, it opened its first casino.

The two main Indian/tribal casinos in Connecticut are Foxwoods Resort Casino in Ledyard and Mohegan Sun in Uncasville.

Until recent years, people living in Connecticut who wanted to play casino games could only do so at one of these land-based casinos or offshore casinos that operate outside of US jurisdiction.

Since Connecticut legalized online casino gambling activities in 2021, just two globally renowned sites have emerged – Mohegan Sun Casino (FanDuel) and DraftKings Casino. There’s also Sugar House, but this is strictly an online sports betting site and does not yet offer casino games to people living in CT.

Today, citizens of Connecticut can play their favorite online casino games at these two sites from their preferred Wi-Fi/internet-connected smartphone, tablet, laptop, or desktop computer, provided they are at least 21 years old.

These two fully licensed and regulated online casinos have made casino gambling more accessible than ever.

Cloud gaming, faster internet speeds, more efficient web browsers, cutting-edge desktop and mobile devices, enhanced security, quicker deposits and withdrawals, live streaming capabilities, and many other technological advancements have also made online casino gambling more popular than gambling at land-based casinos.

Final thoughts

Although online casino gambling in Connecticut is set to take off massively, people still visit the two land-based tribal casinos, meaning they won’t be disappearing any time soon.

Online casinos are simply a more convenient way for some people to play their favorite games. Residents of Connecticut may only have access to two online casinos, but this will likely change over the coming years as more operators look to enter the market.

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