When you think about online gambling and online poker in Connecticut, you think of two Native American tribes: Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan. These tribes own the famous Foxwoods Casino and the shining light that is Mohegan Sun. Given their status in the Constitution State, it’s little wonder these two tribes are responsible for poker in Connecticut.
Naturally, they’ll both work with established online operators to launch sites. However, they’ll be the driving force for internet poker in the state. We don’t know which online operators will partner with the tribes. However, what we do know is that the Connecticut online poker scene will soon be a legal and thriving entity.
The online poker industry in Connecticut is expected to be fully operational by 2022. Governor Ned Lamont signed HB 6451 into law on May 27, 2021, and operators were given the green light to go live on July 1. However, at this stage, no one has been granted a license yet. This means any of the big names like Stars could become a legal Connecticut online poker room.
We know for certain that there are two licenses up for grabs and any operator wanting one will have to partner with one of the state’s Indian tribes. Other than these facts, we don’t have much else to go on right now other than what’s happening elsewhere in the US. Based on the brands killing it in other states, we believe the following operators could be live in Connecticut by 2022.
PokerStars Connecticut would be an entity in its own right but also part of the biggest brand in online poker. PokerStars was founded in 2001 and, since that time, it’s created a global network of cash games, MTTs, and SNGs. Not only that, it’s forged a reputation as one of the leading innovators in online poker. From all angles, PokerStars is an industry giant and its presence in Connecticut would boost the market as a whole.
We’ve already seen what PokerStars US has to offer in New Jersey, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. Despite a lack of liquidity sharing options, PokerStars US has remoulded international tournaments such as SCOOP, WCOOP for their American players. And offered innovative games like Spin & Gos.
At the time of writing, PokerStars CT isn’t yet a reality. The company hasn’t received a license to offer poker in Connecticut. However, the odds are that this will change. PokerStars is looking to go live in all US states, particularly when liquidity sharing makes it possible to connect its localized platforms. When this happens, PokerStars CT will be the home of cash games and multi-million-dollar tournament series.
The Connecticut online poker scene wouldn’t feel complete without 888poker. This European poker operator has made its name in the US through its partnership with the WSOP.com. As the official partner and software supplier for WSOP.com, the two have struck up a profitable relationship in other US states, including New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Nevada.
That makes 888Poker one of the top names in the US online gaming industry and a strong candidate to go live in Connecticut. If it does become an official CT poker room, you can expect a wealth of impressive products and features. There’s a no deposit bonus in other states, so there’s no reason that wouldn’t be on the menu in Connecticut.
888Poker Connecticut would also offer lottery-style SNGs, known as Blasts, where you can win up to $300,000. Add to this a ton of Hold’em and Omaha cash games, as well as access to WSOP online bracelet events and satellites, and this could be one of Connecticut’s top online poker sites.
Legalization of online poker in Connecticut could bring DraftKings into the mix. It already has a strong presence in the state thanks to its long standing partnership with Foxwoods. That has allowed DraftKings to offer Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) in Connecticut for some time.
This type of leverage could be valuable when it comes to securing a gaming license and, in turn, becoming one of Connecticut’s legal poker rooms. We can’t say for sure what DraftKings Connecticut would offer in terms of poker products. But we do know the market will be relatively small.
The state will initially authorise two online poker sites. Therefore, if DraftKings was interested in adding poker to its platform, this would be a great opportunity. Yes, it might come up against PokerStars CT or another top brand. However, it will only have to compete against one established operator, not five or six. This should give DraftKings Poker Connecticut a better shot at succeeding than it would in other states.
We’ve speculated on whether or not companies such as PokerStars Connecticut will offer real-money gaming in the state, but what about free-play options? Well, any Connecticut poker rooms with a license to offer real-money action will also be able to offer free games. However, those sites won’t be your only options. There’s already an active online site that offers free games.
That site is known as Global Poker and it’s allowed to operate in the state thanks to sweepstakes laws. Global Poker isn’t like Pokerstars or partypoker in that it doesn’t offer real-money online poker games. Instead, it uses a free-play sweeps model, which means you wager special onsite credits known as sweeps (sweeps coins). These coins don’t have any value outside of Global Poker. However, inside the site, they’re your ticket to a vast array of cash games, MTTs, and SNGs.
From Hold’em and Omaha to Crazy Pineapple, there’s something for everyone. In fact, what’s great about Global Poker Connecticut is that you can choose to buy extra credits. Everyone is given free sweeps when they join. You can use these to win more coins and unlock various poker bonuses.
However, if that’s not enough, you can make secure deposits. Again, you won’t be able to withdraw your sweeps. So, you’re only buying coins in order to enhance your onsite experience. But, the fact is, you can enjoy an authentic online poker experience in the state without having to use a real-money CT poker site. And, moreover, you can do that right now.
Aside from the fact that Connecticut is a newly regulated market and incoming operators will want to impress, we expect many of the biggest names to enter the fray. The likes of PokerStars, 888Poker, partypoker, and any other operators that receive a licence aren’t going to rest on their laurels. They’ll want to stand out from the crowd and one of the best ways to do this is by offering a constant stream of added value.
We can’t predict exactly what offers will be on the table when you join legal Connecticut poker rooms. In fact, even if we could, the offers will always be changing. However, we can provide a general overview of the types of poker bonuses you can expect to see at the top CT poker sites:
Welcome Bonuses: Otherwise known as first deposit bonuses, these offers are given to all new customers. They can include no deposit bonuses, which are rewards given to you after registering an account. They can also include deposit bonuses which give you cash and/or free tournament tickets up to a certain value based on the size of your initial transaction.
Reload Bonuses: Similar to first deposit bonuses, these deals give you something extra when you add funds to your account (after the initial deposit). The type of reward will vary. It could be free cash. It could be SNG tickets or access to VIP freerolls. You may also have to use a special CT poker bonus code before you make a deposit. Whatever the specifics, the general premise is always the same: reload your account and you’ll get something extra.
Freerolls and MTTs: The best online poker sites in Connecticut will have tons of free tournaments. For example, we know PokerStars and 888Poker have dozens of daily freerolls. We also expect there to be plenty of ticket giveaways. These tickets will give you free entry to Connecticut poker tournaments where you can win cash prizes.
Rakeback and VIP Rewards: The final way to get more for less at licensed Connecticut poker rooms is loyalty points. Each time you pay a certain amount of rake, you’ll receive points. The way in which points are earned and credited to your account will vary between sites. However, the general premise is always the same: the more you rake, the more points you earn. These points can then be used to unlock VIP rewards such as rakeback, which is an easy way to get a percentage of your rake paid back into your account.
Connecticut online poker laws are similar to other US states in that the market is closed. This means you’ll only be played against people within the state. That does mean the player pools might be somewhat limited, particularly at non-peak times. However, there should still be enough action for novices, casuals, and mid-stakes grinders. What’s more, there is a chance Connecticut will enter into liquidity sharing pacts with other states. If that happens, operators such as PokerStars CT would be able to merge their player pools and create bigger games.
Other than being an isolated market, the online Connecticut poker scene will be limited to two operators. This could change, but it’s a caveat that was added to HB 6451 before Governor Ned Lamont signed it into law. Connecticut poker laws also set out the following regulations:
Online poker in the US has gone through its ups and downs. Just as variance can swing in both directions at the poker table, the industry’s fortunes have fluctuated over the last decade or so. Now, however, online poker in Connecticut is legal and, in the coming years, it’s set to flourish. To give you some idea of where things are heading, it’s important to look at where we’ve come from. So, with that in mind, here’s a quick history of online poker in the US and, in turn, Connecticut:
Everything was fairly free and unregulated before 2006. The US didn’t have any specific laws that made online gaming illegal and, as such, offshore operators offered their services to players across the country. The Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act of 2006 (UIGEA) put the first wrinkle in the fabric of US online poker.
Brought in under the SAFE Port Act, UIGEA made online poker difficult. It’s important to stress that it didn’t make online poker illegal. It did, however, make it illegal for operators to process payments from US residents. Thus, it was virtually impossible for US poker sites to offer real-money games after 2006.
Some companies exited the market, others found a way to continue and stayed. Those that stayed flourished. They became the biggest poker sites in the world and dominated the market until 2011 and the Black Friday shutdowns.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) changed the game in 2011 when it ordered the shutdown of three high-profile poker sites. The move became known as Black Friday because it brought an end to real-money online gaming in the US. The DOJ’s assertion was that the operators who remained active after UIGEA were breaking the law.
The fact they were offering real-money poker games wasn’t the issue. The problem was that they’d found ways to process payments from US players. That was deemed illegal and, therefore, justification for shutting down the sites and, in turn, the entire industry.
The move towards regulated US online poker sites began in 2013. New Jersey was the first state to enact its own gaming laws. It did this by invoking the Tenth Amendment (States’ Rights) and the DOJ’s interpretation of the Wire Act. In simple terms, the DOJ concluded in 2011 that the Wire Act only applied to online communications relating to sports betting (this was later challenged and, now, sports betting is also legal).
As such, the Wire Act didn’t outlaw online poker or casino gaming. State lotteries were subsequently allowed to sell tickets online. New Jersey governor Chris Christie used these changes as the foundation for a new set of online gaming relations. The bill he signed into law superseded federal laws such as UIGEA and made online poker and casino games legal in New Jersey. The first site went live in 2013 and that started a cascade of state-based poker bills.
Connecticut’s two tribal gaming entities tried to make online poker legal in the state back in 2018. They both launched free-play sites which, in turn, initiated official discussions on how online poker in Connecticut could become a reality.
These initial talks didn’t result in a bill being submitted in 2018 and the issue was dropped. However, it resurfaced in 2019 with a bi-partisan gaming bill known as SB 17. That bill made it to the Senate floor but no further. It did, however, add more fuel to the fire.
MGM Resorts was now in the mix and facing mounting legal challenges. It wanted online poker in Connecticut to be open for all and not just the state’s tribal gaming entities. A new bill, SB 21, was introduced in 2020 and the process took another step forward.
SB 21 eventually evolved into HB 6451. After wrestling over the issue of who would have a stake in online gaming, state lawmakers agreed that Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan would have exclusive rights to online poker and casino gaming. The Connecticut State Lottery would control sports betting and keno.
With the House and Senate in agreement, Governor Ned Lamont signed Connecticut’s online gaming bill (HB 6451) into law on May 27, 2021. That meant CT poker online became a reality on July 1, 2021.
At this stage, no one has been given a licence. The application and selection process is expected to take a few months, which means you can expect to see the state’s two legal poker sites going live at some point in 2022.
Geolocation is an important issue. Any Connecticut poker rooms reopening or, indeed, opening an online site have to verify the location of their customers. Basically, you can’t use a licensed CT online poker room if you’re not within the state - same as elsewhere in the US. To ensure everyone is playing by the rules, Connecticut’s legal poker sites will ask you to activate a geolocation tracker when you log in.
This software determines your IP address/location so that the company knows you’re within state lines. Any attempt to block the tracking software or hide your true location will result in your account being closed. It could also result in legal action because it would be classed as breaking the law. Therefore, if you’re asked to enable geolocation tracking, always say yes. This ensures you’re acting lawfully and, in turn, that everyone on the network is safe.
There are rogue operators out there. Despite US laws being very clear about what’s legal and what’s not, unlicensed operators still try their luck. Our advice is clear: don’t use unlicensed US online poker sites. Aside from the fact you could be breaking the law, there are many reasons why it’s a bad idea to use them.
With that being said, you should always use legal CT poker sites for the following reasons:
The world’s leading online poker sites are top of the tree for a reason. They’ve earned their position through a combination of hard work, dedication, and excellent service. For example, if you see a name like PokerStars Connecticut, you know it’s going to offer a high-quality experience. Reputation counts for a lot in the gambling world, which is why it’s wise to use licensed sites.
Money makes the online poker world go round. As such, you want to know that your bankroll is safe at all times. Only legal poker sites in Connecticut can offer this type of guarantee. Why? Because state regulations say that they have to. It’s written in law that licensed poker sites have to provide safe payment options and, in turn, store your money in secure bank accounts. That’s a guarantee you can count on and another reason to choose legal US poker sites.
If you want the best bonuses, juiciest cash games, and most lucrative Connecticut poker tournaments, legal sites are the way to go. These companies not only have the backing of the state, they’re national and international businesses. This means they have ample resources to offer games and promotions that have a combined value of millions. Therefore, if you want to play for guaranteed cash prizes worth millions of dollars, you should always choose a legal Connecticut poker room.
Why should you play poker online in Connecticut?
Legal online gaming could lead to more live Connecticut poker rooms reopening. Indeed, as interest in the game surges, more offline opportunities should emerge. That’s great news. We love playing live poker. The sound of riffling chips, the ability to stare down an opponent, and the feeling of raking in a huge pot are all extremely enjoyable. However, when it comes to an all-round experience, we think Connecticut online poker sites have the following advantages:
Perhaps the best reason to use online poker rooms is added value. The top operators offer a wealth of bonuses. Regardless of whether you’re a newbie, novice, or a pro, you can get free cash, access to VIP tournaments, and much more. Basically, if you want more ways to boost your bankroll, online poker is the way to go.
A live poker room will typically have no more than ten tables. Foxwoods Casino is the exception to this rule with 110+ tables. However, this is one of the largest live poker rooms in the US and far bigger than the average venue. In general, online poker sites will have more cash game tables and tournaments than their offline counterparts. There will be hundreds of games available on any given day.
You can play in a way that suits you. The best poker sites will offer freerolls, games costing less than $0.10, and high stakes games with buy-ins topping $500+. It doesn’t matter how experienced you are or how big your bankroll is, there will be games to suit. Moreover, you’ll be able to play via your desktop or mobile devices. This makes online poker accessible at any time and from any location (within the state). In short, you can play your way, whenever you want.
Connecticut has a population of 3.5 million. That means it’s quite a bit smaller than other US poker sites. For example, New Jersey has a population of almost 9 million and its largest sites attract around 500 cash game players at peak times. Connecticut’s poker sites will be less active.
However, it’s worth noting that there will only be two license holders. In contrast, New Jersey has four license holders, so there are more sites for players to choose from. With fewer options in Connecticut, players will be less spread out. So, even though it’s a smaller state, Connecticut poker laws should result in more concentrated player pools and, therefore, more action at all levels.
The majority of players will spend their time playing tournaments. This is because they offer big returns for a comparatively small outlay. For example, freerolls can have cash prizes topping $100. That’s a free way to win $100. Building on that, there could be poker tournaments in Connecticut costing $10 with five-figure prizes. Based on potential alone, you’ll find that a lot of the action that takes place online will be inside the tournament lobbies of Connecticut’s licensed poker sites.
Cash games will always be busy simply because they’re on-demand. In other words, you can sit down and play whenever you like. Basically, there are no start and stop times like poker tournaments. This is appealing to players on a tight schedule. For those that like to ante up in cash games, you can expect a decent selection of Hold’em and Omaha tables. There may be other variants on offer, such as Stud and Draw. However, in general, there will be Hold’em and Omaha games with blinds starting at $0.01/$0.02.
SNGs come in two main forms: standard and lottery-style. Standard SNGs cost $0.50+ and come in a variety of formats, including full-ring, six-max, heads-up, turbo, and super turbo. Lottery-style SNGs are either three or four-handed games with random prize pools. If, for example, PokerStars CT goes live, these SNGs will be called Spin & Go and feature prize pools topping $1 million. At 888Poker Connecticut, they’ll be called Blast and offer prizes worth up to $300,000.
The best ways to experience Connecticut’s online poker scene without breaking the bank are freerolls. These MTTs don’t cost anything to enter but offer cash prizes. If you can’t win any money, there will be tournament tickets up for grabs. Either way, poker freerolls give you the chance to win something of value without spending a dime.
Any deposits and withdrawals you make will be safe and secure. Online poker operators in CT are legally required to guarantee all payments and protect your money at all times. Firstly, you’ll have to confirm and verify your identity. Initially, you’ll be asked to provide some personal details, your address, and the last four digits of your Social Security Number (SSN). These details will be checked against national databases during the registration process. If everything checks out, you’ll be given an account.
Once you’ve got an active account, you’ll need to verify it before making your first withdrawal. You can do this by sending in two forms of ID. The security team will review your documents, cross-reference them with the account details you’ve provided, and, assuming everything is OK, verify your account. You’ll only be able to make withdrawals once this process has been completed.
The final things to note are the deposit and withdrawal limits, processing times, and payment methods. In general, the minimum deposit will be $10 and it should be the same on the way out. Deposits will be processed instantly and withdrawals will take between 24-72 hours. This means your money should be in your chosen account within 5-7 days.
Finally, the payment methods you can expect to see at online poker sites in Connecticut are:
Safety and fairness won’t be an issue at Connecticut’s top poker sites. Why? Well, because they’re legal and licensed entities. That means they have to use geolocation tracking, SSL encryption, and a host of internal security protocols such as password-protected accounts. Licensed poker sites also have to prove their games are 100% fair. They do this by having their random number generators tested and certified by third-party agencies such as eCOGRA.
Finally, all legal online CT poker sites will have responsible gambling tools. They’re legally bound to act responsibly and, in turn, give you ways to control your gambling activity. These tools include deposit limits, game restrictions, reality checks, and time outs. So, basically, you’ll be safe at every turn when you play online.