Where Does Connecticut Stand on Offline and Online Poker?
Update: March 7, 2020: There’s still no online poker in Connecticut. Moreover, things don’t look too promising. The CT Mirror reported on March 3, 2020 that Gov. Ned Lamon and the tribal casinos are deadlocked over sports betting. This doesn’t bode well for any expansion of gaming in the state, including online poker. Tribes have historically opposed online poker and the state was deadlocked with tribes for years before they reached an agreement on statewide Keno.
We’ll keep our eyes on the issue, but for the moment, it looks like neither side is backing down.
Legal Poker in Connecticut
While poker is illegal in Connecticut, you can still find some pretty good rooms and tournaments in the area. How is that possible? The answer is Indian casinos.
Connecticut is home to the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes. The tribes run the Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun casinos. Both those casinos have big poker rooms with great cash games and an incredible lineup of tournaments that draw players from all across the country.
The Mohegan Sun has 33 poker tables and all kinds of game from No-Limit Hold’em to Razz to Pot-Limit Omaha. There are also a ton of daily tournaments and promotions. For more information, check out their site for more details. Foxwoods also hosts a number of large tournaments throughout the year including the Foxwoods Poker Classic. They also have several tables running at all hours and a bunch of different promotions like High Hand Frenzy. Again, for more information, check out their website.
Not-So Legal Poker in Connecticut
When it comes to the rest of the state, poker is illegal though. The Connecticut Office of Legislature Research in Connecticut issued a report in 2007 that said “it is illegal for private clubs and organizations to host poker games.” It mentioned a 2004 case when the Attorney General told bars across the state that hosting poker nights was illegal.
While some legislators have been trying to legalize sports betting, online gambling and online poker, there has been pushback from the tribes. The tribes currently have exclusive rights over gambling in the state and any expansion under their approval. Therefore, as of right now, there are only two instances that allow for legal poker in the state:
- “Incidental to a bona fide social relationship”
- Being conducted at the state’s two Indian casinos under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) and state-tribal agreements
The OLR report says the law doesn’t define what “Incidental to a bona fide social relationship” means. This makes the waters a little murky, but more illegal than legal. In conclusion, if you want to play live poker in Connecticut, head to Mohegan Sun or Foxwoods.
Online Poker in Connecticut
There are still no state-regulated sites, but if you’re looking for alternatives, check out the options below:
Connecticut Gambling State Statutes
Every state has its own laws governing gambling. This means every state defines it differently. In Connecticut, gambling defined as is:
Gambling means risking any money, credit, deposit or other thing of value for gain contingent in whole or in part upon lot, chance or the operation of a gambling device, including the playing of a casino gambling game.
The hot word here is “chance”. Any professional player will tell you poker is a game of skill, not chance, and that is why it should be considered legal. There’s some legal backing to this too. In 2012, a federal judge ruled that poker was a game of skill, not chance. This is what paved the way for states to start legalizing online poker. Connecticut is still behind the curve on this though. If you want more information on gambling laws in Connecticut, click here for a great resource.
Legal Gambling in Connecticut
The Department of Consumer Protection Gaming Division regulates gambling in Connecticut. They issue licenses and permits to legal gaming providers. Otherwise, it’s illegal. Bottom line, contact the Gaming Division for any questions. Here are some forms of legal gambling in Connecticut.
Non-for-profit organizations can fundraise through gambling with permits. Bingo was legalized in Connecticut in 1939. Then, in 1955, raffles were allowed. In 1972, non-profits could operate casino games during fundraising events. The law was repealed in 2003 though.
The state lottery started in 1972. The Division of Special Revenue ran the lottery until the DCP Gaming Division took control. Then came the Connecticut Lottery Corporation in 1996. Now they operate the state Lottery.
Horse racing is legal in Connecticut, but there aren’t any racetracks. There is off-track betting though. That became legal in 1976. This is pretty neat, since most states don’t have it. The off-track betting is currently run by Autotote Enterprises.
The Foxwoods Resort Casino opened in 1992. The Mohegan Tribe opened Mohegan Sun Casino opened in 1996. They’ve become gambling meccas ever since. Both casinos have great poker rooms and huge resorts. There are also night clubs and restaurants. These are the only two in the state, but a third might be coming. There are talks to build another one near the border with Massachusetts. We’ll keep you updated if it ever does.
Live in another state and want to check the poker laws? Check out our list of states below.
Specific State-by-State Laws
Alabama – Arizona – Arkansas – California – Colorado – Georgia – Idaho – Iowa – Kansas – Maine – Maryland – Massachusetts – Michigan – Minnesota – Mississippi – Montana – Nebraska – New Hampshire – New Mexico – North Carolina – North Dakota – Ohio – Oklahoma – Pennsylvania – Rhode Island – South Carolina – Tennessee – Vermont – West Virginia – Wyoming