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December 8, 2020

Foxwoods and DraftKings ink online sports betting deal as casino cuts back

HBJ Photo | Joe Cooper The Grand Pequot tower at Foxwoods Resorts Casino.

The Mashantucket Pequot tribe and online sports betting giant DraftKings inked a marketing deal this week even as cutbacks hit Foxwoods Resort Casino, the tribe’s in-person gaming flagship. 

The move positions Foxwoods for the potential approval next year of online sports betting by state lawmakers and regulators.

“This is a landmark deal in collaboration with the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation as well as a critical next step to bringing America’s top-rated sportsbook app to sports fans in Connecticut,” DraftKings President Matt Kalish said in a statement. DraftKings currently operates in 10 states.

“Now we’re ready to drive sports wagering and online gaming for the state of Connecticut,” said Rodney Butler, chairman of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe. “Working through the tribal gaming compacts, we will help bolster our economy with much-needed revenue and virtual entertainment.”

The deal also partners DraftKings with Foxwoods on daily fantasy sports, with Foxwoods planning to launch the game on Sunday, December 13.

The Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan Tribes secured exclusive rights to operate gaming within Connecticut’s borders under a deal that nets the state 25% of slot revenue.

The Pequots estimate that online gaming and sports betting will generate $175 million in new revenue for the state over five years. 

Gov. Ned Lamont said at his daily briefing on Monday that he expects legislation on online gaming and sports betting to move forward in the next legislative session, which starts Jan. 6. Lamont said his staff members are meeting with both tribes to ensure that any state moves to expand gaming don’t result in lawsuits.

Even as plans advance for online sports betting, Foxwoods is cutting back on hours and hotel capacity and closing some gambling areas at its casino in Ledyard due to a steep drop in revenue in recent months. Jason Guyot, Foxwoods interim president and CEO, said that the casino had also decided to “temporarily furlough” about 100 employees.

“Much like other industries, the continued spread of COVID-19 continues to impact our resort due to rising cases and new travel guidelines in place,” Guyot said.  “As a result, we are making some temporary updates to our overall resort offerings and moving towards winter hours and operations.”

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