Connecticut Legal Poker Laws

Connecticut Poker Laws
Connecticut Gambling & Poker Laws

Understanding Connecticut law regarding poker specifically (and gambling in general) isn't an impossible task.  Any poker player who wants to educate themselves about the law in Connecticut as it applies to online poker needs to do little besides set aside a bit of time and focus.  To get you started on the right track for researching the legality of poker in the state of Connecticut, here's our pocket guide to Connecticut gambling law, history, regulation and recent developments.

Online Poker in Connecticut

Connecticut has long been a hub for poker on the east coast, attracting poker players from both the region and the world with high-stakes cash games and a bounty of prestigious tournaments.  With that pedigree, it's little surprise that online poker is also quite popular in the state.  Thousands of people from Connecticut play poker online at a variety of online poker sites.  Here's some basic information you'll need if you're thinking about joining them.

Premiere Connecticut Legal Online Poker Sites

Poker players must take care to only play at sites with a proper license issued by a recognized authority.  Regulation is imperative when it comes to guaranteeing game fairness and site security.  Our top picks for Connecticut players are all legally licensed and provide you with the top mix of soft games, bonuses and banking options:

Playing Online Poker in Connecticut

It's important to understand that not every state in the US treats gambling in the same way.  As a result, online poker rooms often have policies that prohibit players from a certain state or set of states.  Thankfully for online poker players from Connecticut, the state rarely appears on such lists, meaning that it's easy for you to play poker for real money online if you're living in Connecticut.  Any one of our top picks for Connecticut players will work, as will the dozens of other poker sites that accept Connecticut players. Read the reviews on this page if you are looking for a real money poker room.

Is Playing Online Poker Legal in Connecticut?

The ultimate answer to this question is one that can only come from a qualified legal source.  We're not attempting to offer a definitive answer; instead, our goal is to inform you about some basic facts regarding Connecticut law, provide additional resources for reading and hopefully get you closer to an answer along the way.  The official version of Connecticut statutes can be reviewed here [1].

When you read Connecticut law, a few aspects seem salient to online poker:

  1. Connecticut defines gambling in a way that specifically includes the game of poker, a somewhat rare thing in state law.  According to state law, gambling means "risking any money, credit, deposit or other thing of value for gain contingent in whole or in part upon lot, chance or the operation of a gambling device, including the playing of a casino gambling game such as blackjack, poker, craps, roulette or a slot machine" (Section 53-278a(2)).  Unlike other state laws that leave some ambiguity (and therefore potential legal wiggle room) when it comes to poker, Connecticut law is abundantly clear on the matter.
  2. Engaging in behavior that qualifies as gambling under Connecticut law is a crime.  Specifically, it's a violation of Section 52-278b, which makes is a class B misdemeanor to engage in gambling, encourage others to gamble or even to simply be present while others are gambling.
  3. Connecticut, like several states, has an older law aimed at curtailing phone-based sports betting that could be read as applicable to online activity.  Section 52-278d makes it a class A misdemeanor if you send or receive "gambling information" by "telephone, telegraph, radio, semaphore or other means.'
  4. Additional penalties exist for those who organize, promote or operate gambling as a business, referred to as "professional gambling" in Connecticut law.  While the term seems odd to some, it does not refer to someone who makes a living by gambling as a player.  Rather, per Connecticut law, it only applies to those profiting from the business of gambling.

Will Connecticut Regulate Online Poker?

Players hoping for state-regulated poker in Connecticut have both reasons to hope and reasons to be discouraged.  State officials made it clear early in 2012 [2] that there was little enthusiasm in their ranks for advancing online gambling regulation.  Despite that lack of support, online poker regulation might not be such a long shot in Connecticut, thanks to powerful tribal gambling interests who appear to support state regulation [3] of games like online poker.  If federal regulation efforts continue to gain momentum, legislators in Connecticut could quickly change their tune regarding online gambling - especially if the revenue estimates look attractive enough.

Connecticut Gambling Facts

Gambling in Connecticut: Quick History

Connecticut's emergence as a gambling haven is relatively recent, but the state's history with gambling goes back hundreds of years.  Lotteries were a popular format for entertainment and raising funds for public projects during the state's early days.  In the 1900s, Connecticut embarked on a slow but steady gambling expansion focused primarily around charitable gambling for the first half of the century.  As the rest of the US loosened gambling restrictions, Connecticut followed suit.  The lottery officially returned to Connecticut in 1972, with pari-mutuel wagering coming in 1976 and tribal casinos opening their doors to state residents and visitors in the 1990s.

Regulated Gambling in Connecticut: The Basics

The only major regulated gambling option missing from Connecticut: Commercial casinos, a gap more than filled by the massive tribal resort casinos that dot the state's geography.  As mentioned above, the state lottery and pari-mutuel wagering are also available in Connecticut, although the state does not have any functioning race tracks as of the time of this guide.  Charitable gambling is available in multiple formats, including bingo, raffles and sealed tickets.  It was legal, once upon a time, to hold "Vegas Nights" at a charitable event, but that ability was ended by state action in 2003.

Is There any Regulated Online Gambling Provided by the State?

Not at the current time.  The state of Connecticut has yet to introduce any regulated online gambling controlled directly by a state agency, although one assumes that online lotto sales must be on the state's radar.  As for poker, our analysis is that Connecticut will likely give in to tribal and economic pressure and offer a regulated poker site within the next three years.

Recent Gambling Headlines for Connecticut

The major gambling headline for Connecticut over the last year or so: the financial problems facing the massive Foxwoods Resort Casino [4].  It may well be this financial difficulty that provides the necessary impetus to regulate online gambling in Connecticut.  The recent introduction of table games in neighboring Rhode Island [5] will only increase the pressure on Connecticut's casinos.   

Connecticut Gambling: Useful Links

Gambling in Connecticut [6]:  This white paper, prepared for the state in 2009, provides a comprehensive and detailed look at gambling's role in the state on economic and social levels.  While now a few years old, the guide is still an excellent starting point for understanding the complex environment of Connecticut gambling.

Department of Consumer Protection [7]:  The gaming division of this state agency oversees all things gambling in Connecticut.  One-stop-shop for gambling law, statistics, regulatory questions and problem gambling help.

Mohegan Tribe [8]:  Operates the Mohegan Sun in Connecticut.  Learn about tribal history and current positions on issues like online poker.

Sources & Citations For This Article on Connecticut Online Poker