Unlike most states that don't differentiate between casual betting and professional betting, Connecticut makes it legal for its residents to bet and play games among their friends. But when it comes to betting with a bookmaker or playing games outside of tribal casinos, Connecticut has clear and harsh laws in place.

Bettors that wish to place sports bets or play poker online must do so at their own risk with Connecticut's laws in place. Two large tribal casinos do give the state's citizens the opportunity to bet legally and care free, though there is no such place to do so when it comes to betting on sports.

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Gaming Laws in Connecticut

In Section 52-278a, the Connecticut General Statutes define “gambling” as “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.” The same section goes on to define “professional gambling” as “accepting or offering to accept, for profit, money, credits, deposits or other things of value risked in gambling” and explicitly states bookmaking pool-selling as examples.

What makes Connecticut's laws on gambling interesting is its distinction between gambling on a recreational level and gambling with a bookmakers. Section 53-278b states that any person who engages in gambling is guilty of a class B misdemeanor, but goes on to add that “provided natural persons shall be exempt from prosecution and punishment under this subsection for any game, wager or transaction which is incidental to a bona fide social relationship, is participated in by natural persons only and in which no person is participating, directly or indirectly, in professional gambling.”

In other words, betting on sports or playing games among friends is not illegal in the state of Connecticut. But doing so with strangers is getting involved in professional gambling, which can get residents charged with a misdemeanor.

Sports Betting in Connecticut

As stated above, betting on sports with a bookmaker can be a punishable offense as a class B misdemeanor in the state of Connecticut. For the bookmaker accepting those bets or the location that allows professional gambling to take place on the premises, the penalty is bumped up to a Class A misdemeanor. With this in mind, betting on sports with a local bookmaker is a risky proposition.

Online Betting

While definitely less risky coming from your own home instead of out in a public place, sports betting online is still technically illegal. The offshore sportsbook that is accepting your wagers is partaking in what the state of Connecticut defines as “professional gambling”, even if it is doing so outside of the jurisdiction of Connecticut's laws. A resident in Connecticut is under the jurisdiction of the state however and could face the consequences.

Bettors must weigh the pros and cons of betting sports online and do so at their own risk. There are no specific laws in Connecticut about online gambling, and sports bettors in the state have not come under any legal fire to date for betting online. But while it is a safer option than betting with a bookmaker, it is still not 100% safe.

Poker and Casino in Connecticut

Native American gaming is available in the form of two very large casinos; the Foxwoods Resort Casino and the Mohegan Sun Casino. Both casinos offer Las Vegas style gaming with slot machines, table games and poker rooms.

Mohegan Sun has a respectable poker room with 42 tables, but the Foxwoods Resort Casino is one of the most well known poker rooms in the country. Boasting 147 tables, the Foxwoods Casino routinely has excellent tournaments running and plenty of cash game options available to residents and visitors of Connecticut.

Online Poker

The Mohegan Sun website offers Connecticut residents online poker, but that is only for play money. Poker players that want to wager real funds must do so at an offshore poker room. Under the same laws that make gambling outside of tribal casinos illegal, online poker is illegal as the offshore poker room providing the service is a professional gambling establishment.

Poker players in Connecticut have live options including the two Native American casinos and local house games between friends, which are both legal. Connecticut Governor Dan Malloy said in 2012 that he believes legislation for online poker is “inevitable”, but it still hasn't come to pass yet and he doesn't plan on supporting it if it does.

Other Gaming Options in Connecticut

The state of Connecticut does not offer any live horse racing, but it does allow bettors to place wagers on horse racing around the country at designated off-track betting locations. Horse bettors can also bet on horses online through a state-sanctioned online wagering portal.

Connecticut Lottery

Connecticut has had a lottery for over 40 years, with the first ticket sold back in February of 1972. The state has a handful of Connecticut-exclusive draw games and also participates in the multi-state drawings of the Mega Millions and the Powerball. A number of scratch-off games are also available for sale throughout the state.