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Connecticut Poker & Gambling Laws

Connecticut

Connecticut´s poker and gambling laws are among the clearest in the country. Any gambling activity in Connecticut is illegal unless it is specifically authorized by law. There are no grey areas. There are no debates over games of skill vs. games of chance. If the state doesn´t authorize it – you can´t do it!

With regard to poker, the state-authorized options are pretty limited at the moment. You can only play live poker for real money at the state´s two tribal casinos – the Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods Casino – and in home games, provided the organizer does not charge a rake or fee for hosting the games.

Other than that, state-sanctioned gambling in Connecticut is confined to off-track betting parlors, the lottery and charitable gaming such as sealed ticket raffles and bingo – provided the organizer of the charitable gaming activity obtains a prior permit from the Commissioner of Consumer Protection. [1]

Can Players From Connecticut Play Poker Online?

Although some US-facing poker sites continue to accept players from Connecticut, you will be breaking the law if you play on them. Neither the state legislature nor any state agency has approved any form of gambling on the Internet and even if an online poker site is legal in another jurisdiction, such as a another state or foreign country, it is illegal to use that site to gamble from within Connecticut.

No individual has ever been charged or prosecuted for playing poker online in Connecticut, but this does not imply we advocate breaking the law. A violation of Connecticut´s gambling laws is a Class B misdemeanor, punishable by imprisonment of up to six months, a fine of up to $1,000, or both. If you gamble professionally, you may be prosecuted for a Class A misdemeanor (CGS 53-278b [2]).

As you will see in our “Recent Developments” section below, there is reason to believe Connecticut may follow neighboring states in regulating online poker in the near future. However, despite the majority of stakeholders being in favor of a regulated gambling environment, there are obstacles to overcome before a change in the law would allow players from Connecticut to play online poker is possible.

Connecticut Gambling History

Legal gambling started in Connecticut in 1939 when Connecticut legalized charitable bingo organizations. This was a big draw for Connecticut. Many people enjoyed the game of bingo, but as with most gamblers they wanted more offerings than just bingo.

Connecticut continued to add more legal charitable gaming options over the years such as bazaars and casino nights. Through the years they even added horse races and dog races to the legal gambling ventures. The Tribes wanted to open full blown casinos, but Connecticut was not interested in that.

That all changed in after the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act passed Congress in 1988. The Tribes in Connecticut petitioned the court to allow casinos on their lands. It was a battle, but finally in 1992 the Tribes had won. This is when Foxwoods was turned into a full blown casino.

Foxwoods was opened on the Native Indian Reservation owned by Mashantucket Pequot. Pequots traveled from as far away as California and Hawaii to their native lands in southeastern Connecticut to help run the casino. A steady job was something that the Pequots looked forward to, and it did yield a steady job for many. In fact, a lot of the people became very wealthy from the Foxwoods Casino.

Recent Developments in Connecticut Poker & Gambling Laws

Recent developments in Connecticut´s poker and gambling laws illustrate the uphill struggle the state may have in regulating online poker in the near future. Despite a flurry of activity at the beginning of 2018 – during which a bill proposing putting the lottery online was introduced – there are ongoing legal disputes preventing the development of a third tribal casino, and concerns about problem gambling.

House Speaker Joseph Aresimowicz has been upbeat in recent interviews about the prospects for a regulated gambling environment, and his optimism was fueled by the repeal of PASPA In May 2018. Nonetheless, as the legislative calendar in Connecticut has now ended for the year, it would take a special session for any further developments in 2018 – an unlikely scenario considering the speed at which progress has been made to date.

Will Connecticut Regulate Online Poker in the Future?

It is highly likely Connecticut will regulate online poker in the future – probably as part of a comprehensive gaming package that includes sports betting and online casinos. How soon this will happen is anybody´s guess. Connecticut is not plagued by stakeholder infighting like some other states, but has a responsible attitude towards problem gambling that may stand in the way of advancement.

Furthermore, a bill proposing a comprehensive study into a possible expansion of gambling – usually the first process in a comprehensive gaming package – was rejected by the House earlier this year. Quite possibly this was due to the state waiting for a report on the socioeconomic impact of online lottery sales, but this is not due to be delivered until 2023 – potentially delaying the regulation of online poker in Connecticut for another five years.

References:

  1. Jump up ^ Connecticut Charitable Gaming
  2. Jump up ^ CGS § 53-278b
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