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Connecticut Poker Laws

Connecticut Online Gambling Laws
Connecticut Poker Laws
Last Updated April 26, 2019

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 legal status of poker in the state of Connecticut, here’s our pocket guide to Connecticut gambling law, history, regulation and recent developments as well as which poker sites accept players from CT.

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 sites.  Here’s some basic information you’ll need if you’re thinking about joining them. We also review the various laws, updates with respect to HB and provide our analysis of Connecticut’s gambling laws.

Is Gambling Legal in Connecticut?

State Code Section(s)53.278; 52.553-554; 12.557
Definition of GamblingGambling: 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.
Definition of Professional GamblingProfessional gambling: Accepting or offering to accept, for profit, money, credits, deposits or other things of value risked in gambling, or any claim thereon or interest therein.
Online Poker/GamblingBoth tribes with casino compacts – Mohegan and Mashantucket Pequot – have long been lobbying for online poker and casino games, most recently in testimony to lawmakers in 2018. Both offer free-play internet gaming to their casino patrons. Currently, the Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection specifies that internet gambling is illegal.
Live PokerLive poker is legal and available at the Indian casinos in the state.
CasinosThe Mohegan and Mashantucket Pequot tribes operate full-fledged casinos on their reservation lands per the federal IGRA law.
Sports BettingBills were introduced in the Connecticut House and Senate in 2018 but not yet passed.
DFSPaid-entry fantasy sports was legalized as part of the 2017 budget that the governor signed into law, but it must be approved by the state’s tribes before it goes into effect. That has yet to happen.
Other Forms of GamblingBingo, charitable gambling, jai alai, horse racing and off-track betting, pari-mutuel betting, social gambling.

Latest Updates from Connecticut’s Online Poker Efforts 2018

For several years, the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe (operating Foxwoods) and Mohegan Tribe (operating Mohegan Sun) have advocated for online gaming, specifically online poker. In the absence of legislation regarding real-money sites, both casino operators have launched free-play gaming sites to link customers to their land-based properties. But their support for broad legislation has been made known to legislators for a number of years.

In 2018, Foxwoods signed an interactive gaming technology partnership with Pariplay to offer real-money gaming when players are on the casino property. Customers will be able to download the games, connect to some of the games offered in the casino, and play from their rooms, restaurants, pool, or anywhere on the property. While the offerings are not live yet, this indicates that Foxwoods is more than ready for online gaming legalization.

Meanwhile, several members of the Connecticut House of Representatives recently announced their intension to propose legislation that will expand gambling in the state. The proposals may include online lottery sales, sports betting reliant upon a positive result from New Jersey’s case awaiting a US Supreme Court decision, and online gaming.

In March 2018, the Public Safety and Security Committee held a public hearing to discuss gambling expansion. The most powerful testimony came from Foxwoods’ Executive Director of Online Gaming, who gave extensive testimony in support of online poker, casino games, and sports betting. Subsequently, Mohegan Sun’s representative did the same. This support is powerful in the eyes of the legislators.

After the hearings and statements from the Mohegan and Mashantucket Pequot tribes indicating enthusiastic support for online poker, casino games, and sports betting, it seemed likely that Connecticut lawmakers would put together an omnibus bill. However, as discussions between lawmakers played out, it seemed that many of them were too unfamiliar with the intricacies of online gambling and wanted to study the issue more intently.

When the regular legislative session ended on May 9, so did the chances for online poker and casino games to be considered. A bill was never proposed on either side of the state legislature, which means there has been no framework established that could allow a bill to be introduced during a special session later in the year. Meanwhile, sports betting is very likely to be discussed after the summer break.

Why not online poker? Both the House Majority Leader and Deputy House Minority Leader expressed concerns about how online gaming would operate and how it would protect its customers. They also indicated they wanted full public hearings on the topic. Without a deadline or any specific urgency to act, they want to give it more time.

Connecticut was off the table in 2018 due to an insufficient amount of information in lawmakers’ hands. While casino operators were in favor of regulated online poker and casino games, not enough members of the legislature were ready to support it.

At the start of 2019, a bipartisan group of 16 members of both houses of the legislature introduced SB.17, a bill to legalize online gaming, keno, and sports wagering. A February hearing on the topic showed that many more lawmakers supported the additional revenue and job creation from gambling expansion, but it was the topic of an additional state casino that produced complications.

By March, another two lawmakers sponsored SB.17, which passed the Senate Public Safety and Security Committee by a 16-8 vote. The bill has time to move forward, as the current legislative session remains open until June 5. If that happens and the bill passes both houses, it would take effect as early as July 1, 2019, and the Commissioner of Consumer Protection would then proceed to draft and ratify online gaming regulations.

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.

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 .

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

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.

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.

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.’

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?

It seems more likely than ever that Connecticut will legalize and regulate online poker in the coming years. With its neighbors – Delaware, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania – operating online poker and casino games, it makes sense that Connecticut is now considering offering the same options in order to stay competitive. There are also interstate compacts to share online poker player pools and internet slot jackpots, which is even more appealing for lawmakers in Connecticut. And with the powerful tribes of the state supportive of online gaming, chances are even better that it will happen.

All Poker and Gambling Laws by State

Connecticut in the News
  • May 11th, 2019

    In the first few months of 2019, Connecticut became one of the states to watch for its internet gaming legislation. A bill was in play, and it seemed to have quite a bit of support. The state has been on watch lists for several years, as the two casino-operating tribes

    Read Full
  • March 22nd, 2019

    The prospects for online poker and casino games in Connecticut were not overwhelmingly positive after a February hearing, but the legislation remained alive. The most pertinent bill in question for online poker supporters – SB.17 – was one that put several forms of gambling expansion into one basket, with internet

    Read Full
  • March 6th, 2019

    One of the states deemed likely to seriously examine online poker and other forms of online gambling in 2019 was Connecticut. The primary reason for the optimism came from the unequivocal support of the state’s two tribes in 2018. The Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation and Mohegan Tribe each told lawmakers

    Read Full
  • January 22nd, 2019

    There was progress in Connecticut in 2018, with lawmakers taking a more serious look at forms of internet gambling than in the past. This was done at the urging of the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan Tribes of Connecticut, both operating massive gambling operations and both in favor of legalized online

    Read Full

Connecticut Gambling Facts

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.

What Type of Gaming Is Regulated by the State?

Daily fantasy sports (DFS) was legalized in 2017, but it is not regulated yet as implementation of the law requires agreements with Native American tribes. Most expect this to be finalized in 2018. The state is looking at the possibilities of offering online lottery ticket sales in 2018, as well as sports betting, the latter of which is contingent upon the ruling of the United States Supreme Court regarding a case brought by the state of New Jersey. In addition, online poker and casino games are being proposed in 2018, so many possibilities have opened this year and remain to be discussed and debated in the coming months.

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.

Connecticut Gambling: Useful Links

Gambling in Connecticut :  A 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 :  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 :  Operates the Mohegan Sun in Connecticut.  Learn about tribal history and current positions on issues like online poker.

Sources and Citations for this Article

About Jennifer Newell

Jennifer began writing about poker while working at the World Poker Tour in the mid-2000s. Since then, her freelance writing career has taken her from Los Angeles to Las Vegas and back to her hometown of St. Louis, where she now lives with her two dogs. She continues to follow the poker world as she also launches a new subscription box company and finishes her first novel. Jennifer has written for numerous publications including PokerStars.com and has followed the US poker and gaming market closely for the last 15 years. Follow Jen on Twitter

Disclaimer: The information on this site is my interpretation of the laws as made available online. It is in no way meant to serve as legal advice or instruction. We recommend that you seek legal advice from a licensed attorney for further or official guidance.

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