Lottery, Rush Street Interactive place wager on sports betting partnership
The Connecticut Lottery Corp. provided details of its soon-to-be-launched sports betting operation Thursday, identifying a vendor charged with developing online and retail platforms and announcing it will team with Sportech, the state’s off-track betting operator, to offer on-site wagering at 10 existing Sportech locations.
With five more retail locations authorized but yet to be determined, the lottery expects to position a retail sports betting outlet within a 30-minute drive of most of the state’s residents, said Rob Simmelkjaer, the lottery board’s chairman.
Of course, once the lottery and the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes make online sports betting available, no sports bettor will need to drive anywhere.
Simmelkjaer announced the lottery had picked Chicago-based Rush Street Interactive as its sports betting vendor, choosing a partner with a track record of success in the Northeast states of Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York, as well as seven other states — Illinois, Michigan, Indiana, Virginia, Colorado, Iowa and West Virginia — and the South American country of Colombia.
"Rush Street Interactive is a respected sports betting and gaming company that has established itself as a leading innovator in the industry,” Simmelkjaer said. “We are impressed not only with RSI’s successes in other jurisdictions, particularly in neighboring New York and New Jersey, but also its commitment to responsible gambling practices.”
Operating under such brands as BetRivers.com and PlaySugarHouse.com, RSI, founded in 2012, launched online gaming in New Jersey five years ago and is one of the largest operators of both online gaming and sports betting in that state. RSI oversees the retail sportsbook at Rivers Casino & Resort in Schenectady, N.Y., the first casino in New York to accept a legal sports bet. Rivers' sportsbook has generated the most revenue of any commercial sportsbook in New York since its launch in 2019.
Greg Smith, the lottery’s president and chief executive officer, said RSI’s bid was chosen from among “15 quality proposals from well-established gaming companies.”
RSI offered the best financial terms, Simmelkjaer said, agreeing to provide the lottery with more than 50% of the “net gaming revenue” the deal will generate. He said the parties’ 10-year agreement guarantees the lottery a minimum of $170 million in revenue over the life of the deal.
“But that’s just a start,” he said.
Gaming legislation Gov. Ned Lamont signed into law May 27 authorized the lottery and the casino-owning Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes to offer legal sports betting in Connecticut for the first time. The rollout is contingent on the U.S. Department of the Interior’s approval of amended gaming agreements between the tribes and the state.
The Interior Department received the amendments July 27 and has 45 days in which to act on them. It may choose to take no action, which would be tantamount to approval, an approach it has taken in other instances.
While state and tribal officials have said they expect to have sports betting in place by the Sept. 9 start of National Football League play, that now appears highly unlikely.
“We are confident we will be taking NFL sports bets this season, in the early part of the season,” Simmelkjaer said, adding that it’s possible retail sports betting could be launched ahead of online sports betting.
The lottery and Sportech will offer sports betting at Sportech’s Bobby V’s restaurants in Stamford and Windsor Locks, at Sports Haven in New Haven and at Sportech’s Winners locations in Hartford, Manchester, Waterbury, Torrington, New Britain, Milford and Norwalk.
The lottery, authorized to operate up to 15 retail sports betting sites, expects to open other locations in Hartford, potentially at the XL Center; Bridgeport and elsewhere, Simmelkjaer said.
Sportech, which had threatened litigation over being cut out of gaming-expansion talks limited to representatives of the tribes and the governor’s office, was all in with Thursday’s lottery announcement.
“We are primed and ready to establish an operation that includes sports, lottery and pari-mutuel gaming all under one roof and to promote the (lottery) online platform,” Ted Taylor, Sportech’s president, said in a statement. "Our team is very excited to play a key role in this historic moment for the state as sports betting becomes a reality for Connecticut.”
The Mashantucket Pequots and the Mohegans have announced sports betting and online game partnerships with operators DraftKings and FanDuel, respectively. They will unveil their own online versions, and the tribes are preparing new retail sportsbooks at their respective casinos, Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun.