Connecticut Passes Online Casino Gaming and Poker, Illinois Efforts Fall Short So Far

June 2, 2021
Connecticut Passes Online Casino Gaming and Poker, Illinois Efforts Fall Short So Far

The US regulated online poker market saw some mixed news last week. The good news is another state legalizing online poker. The bad news is that promising legislation for online poker in Illinois didn’t reach a vote.

Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont (D) signed a bill last week legalizing online casino gaming, sports betting, and poker. The Constitution State becomes the seventh state legalizing real money online poker and that list now includes:

  • Connecticut
  • Pennsylvania
  • New Jersey
  • Michigan
  • Nevada
  • Delaware
  • West Virginia

“By signing this bill into law, Connecticut is now on the cusp of providing a modern, technologically advanced gaming experience that will be competitive with our neighboring states and positions us for success into the future,” Governor Lamont said after signing the bill. 

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Inside the Connecticut online gaming legislation

The path to legalization came fairly quickly for Connecticut. Lamont expressed support for the legislation earlier this year and the issue received bipartisan support.

The state legislature passed the bill in late May and the senate followed through last week. Lamont signed the bill on Friday.

As part of the legislation, the Mohegan and Mashantucket Pequot tribes tribes and state lottery can offer online casino games for real money and sports betting.

While the legislation passed swiftly, that doesn’t mean gaming will necessarily start quickly. 

“The administration and the tribes will seek approval from the Bureau of Indian Affairs at the US Department of Interior to amend the state’s compact with the tribes, which needs to happen before online gaming and sports wagering can be offered in the state,” NBC Connecticut notes.

As part of the law, the state’s general fund receives monthly payments from the tribes and state lottery. That ranges from 13.75% to 20% of gross revenues from sports wagering, online casino gaming, and fantasy contests.

The state also receives $500,000 yearly payments from each tribe and $1 million from the lottery to fund problem gambling programs.

What’s the future of online poker in Connecticut?

A quick launch of online poker seems unlikely. Connecticut is a state of just 3.6 million people, making its possibilities limited.

That population places it above Delaware (974,000), West Virginia (1.8 million), and Nevada (3.1 million). It still falls well behind New Jersey (8.9 million), Michigan (10 million), and Pennsylvania (12.8 million).

Delaware and Nevada have only one online poker operator. A platform still hasn’t launched for online poker in WV, although online casino games in West Virginia are live.

WSOP.com operates in Nevada with 888poker as the sole platform in Delaware. 888 is the World Series of Poker’s software partner and is working to expand in Pennsylvania and Michigan.

888/WSOP.com operates the country’s only online poker interstate compact, the All-American Poker Network. The network pools players in prize pools among New Jersey, Nevada, and with 888 in Delaware.

Shared liquidity would be the best solution for smaller states like Connecticut and West Virginia.  That doesn’t mean a platform won’t take a chance in Connecticut. But the state certainly won’t be a priority until interstate compacts are launched.

Poker fans at least saw some news recently on that front, but that doesn’t mean agreements are imminent.

“I expect a multi-state poker agreement to be signed,” new Michigan Gaming Control Board executive director Henry Williams told Online Poker Report. “The agency has been in discussions with other states and hopes to announce an agreement later this year.”

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Legislative session closes without vote in Illinois

Illinois has become the other hope for the industry over the last few months. The Internet Gaming Act received plenty of support but the legislative session came to a close Tuesday morning without passage.

With 12.7 million people, Illinois offered some real promise – as a standalone poker market or added to a shared liquidity agreement.

Had it passed, the legislation featured language allowing for expedited approval of some operators. That could have meant online poker launching this year.

Players in the state now have to hope legislators take up the issue again in the fall. iGaming has received support among state representatives, but other issues have taken priority.

The legislature is considering some adjustments to the state sports wagering in the fall, OPR reports. That could offer some hope for online gaming to be included in the mix. If not, players will have to wait for 2022.

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