Tribal Operators Mull Over Connecticut’s Online Poker Launch

The initial excitement around online poker in Connecticut, which received its official green light in February 2022, looks to be mired in anticipation. While the state’s regulations welcomed partnerships with giants like PokerStars and PartyPoker, there’s an obvious snag. The pooling of players across states isn’t permitted, which is essential for creating a dynamic player pool.

Considering this, Rodney Butler, Chairman of Mashantucket Pequot, voiced concerns to PlayUSA. “The issue with online poker in every market is liquidity. If you don’t have a large enough pool, it’s not as successful,” he said. He underscored the necessity of multistate agreements, highlighting that the complexities involved have pushed them to the backburner.

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But there’s hope on the horizon. Butler hinted at possible legislative intervention, stating, “We want to make sure that we’re maximizing iGaming and sports betting… If there’s an opportunity to add a multistate access on the liquidity side for poker, we’d do that then too.”

The state’s tribal gaming operators, the Mohegan Tribe, which stands behind the iconic Mohegan Sun, and the Mashantucket Pequot, operators of Foxwoods, are the ones tasked with online gaming’s rollout. A combined player pool across states is seen as a potential game-changer. Established platforms like PokerStars and have already initiated shared player pools in states such as Michigan, New Jersey, Nevada, and Delaware.

A Population of “Only” 3.6 Million

But why is this pooling so crucial? The answer lies in Connecticut’s population of 3.6 million. While sizable, it’s not vast enough to support an expansive online poker market on its own. However, this base could boost a combined player base, especially when integrated with players from states like New Jersey, Michigan, and Nevada.

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Drawing a parallel, it’s worth noting West Virginia’s journey. Despite its smaller population and having legalized online gaming, it remains in a similar boat. Interstate compacts are allowed, yet the online poker arena there still awaits its first operator.

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