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Mohegan Sun, Foxwoods will launch on-site sports betting Thursday

Southeastern Connecticut is ground zero Thursday for the initial phase of the state’s rollout of sports wagering, with first Mohegan Sun and then Foxwoods Resort Casino hosting Gov. Ned Lamont at events marking the opening of their on-site sportsbooks.

Online sports betting, accessible by mobile devices and computers anywhere in the state, still is a week away.

The casinos announced Wednesday that they and their sports-betting partners were launching their sportsbooks Thursday, achieving milestones that had seemed inevitable since a 2018 U.S. Supreme Court decision repealing the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act. Adopted in 1992, that federal law had prohibited states from legalizing sports betting, effectively banning it outside Nevada.

In New England, Rhode Island introduced sports betting in November 2018 and New Hampshire followed suit at the end of 2019.

Lamont signed a gaming-expansion bill into law this spring authorizing the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes and the Connecticut Lottery Corp. to provide retail and online sports betting.

“Today we celebrate a new era for our Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation, sports fans, Foxwoods guests and Connecticut residents,” Rodney Butler, the Mashantucket chairman, said Wednesday in a statement. “We thank Governor Lamont and his administration, regulators, and the many lawmakers who helped pave the way for legal sports betting and expanded gaming in the state. Their collaboration and hard work has allowed trusted gaming operators like our tribe and DraftKings to help lead innovation across Connecticut. With the NFL season in full force, it’s game on, and we look forward to a successful launch.”

Casinogoers will be able to place bets Thursday at a temporary DraftKings Sportsbook at Foxwoods in the casino’s Ultimate Race Book in Rainmaker Casino and at kiosks throughout the resort. The sportsbook will be open daily from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.

In coming weeks, Foxwoods is expected to announce the opening of a permanent location for the sportsbook, which is in the final stages of construction.

“By leveraging the tribe’s expertise in developing and operating one of the largest resort casinos in the world, we are excited to bring new offerings for consumers in the Constitution State,” said Matt Kalish, co-founder and president of DraftKings North America.

Mohegan Sun will host a ribbon-cutting at its temporary FanDuel Sportsbook location in the casino’s Bow & Arrow Sports Bar. A permanent sportsbook will open this winter in Mohegan Sun’s existing race book.

Mohegan Sun noted Thursday’s launch of retail sports wagering in the state comes in time for Week 4 of the National Football League season, which features Sunday night’s much-anticipated game between quarterback Tom Brady's Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the defending Super Bowl champions, and Brady’s former team, the New England Patriots.

“While we do believe the Patriots game will be popular in and of itself, it is also the Sunday night game which tends to be the most popular game of the weekend,” Kevin Hennessy, FanDuel’s director of publicity, wrote in an email. “Sunday night games tend to be the marquee matchup of the day. ...”

In a coincidence of scheduling, bettors Thursday also will be able to bet on Thursday night’s Women’s National Basketball Association playoff game between the Connecticut Sun and the Chicago Sky, which is being played in Mohegan Sun Arena. The Sun, owned by the Mohegan Tribe, lost the first game of the best-of-five semifinal series with the Sky on Tuesday night, falling in double overtime.

State officials announced earlier that online sports betting will launch Oct. 7 on platforms operated by the tribes and the lottery, which also will operate 10 retail sports-betting locations in northern and western Connecticut. The lottery has been authorized to operate up to 15 retail locations.

The tribes also have been authorized to provide online casino gaming, which also is expected to launch next week.

b.hallenbeck@theday.com

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