Connecticut To Require Licensure For Live Online Casino Dealers

June 20, 2023
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A bill revising Connecticut's legislation for online casino, sports betting and lottery operations is sitting on the governor’s desk, after being approved by the state's General Assembly.

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A bill revising Connecticut's legislation for online casino, sports betting and lottery operations is sitting on the governor’s desk, after being approved by the state's General Assembly.

Among the changes that Senate Bill 971 provides for is one which requires employees who will be directly or substantially involved in the operation of live online casino gaming to obtain a live game employee license, prior to commencing employment.

“The Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection (DCP) drafted SB 971, which is now Public Act No. 23-54, to address issues noted in regulating the gaming law enacted by the state in 2021, including creating the Live Game Employee license type,” said Kaitlyn Krasselt, a spokeswoman for the DCP.

The bill was sent to Governor Ned Lamont, a Democrat, for his signature on Wednesday (June 14), according to General Assembly records.

The revised legislation will define a live gaming employee and set out related responsibilities.

Among the other revisions to state law, the chief information officer and chief data security officer of online gambling operators are now identified as key employees, requiring licensure.

A key employee who applies for a license must submit to a fingerprint-based state and national criminal background check, to determine the “character and fitness of the applicant for the license”.

A live gaming employee license needs to be renewed every two years. The initial license application fee is $200 with a biennial renewal fee of $100. Key employees, meanwhile, face a renewal fee of $200. Failure to properly license employees, including live game employees, could lead gaming regulators to suspend or revoke a license, and issue fines up to $25,000 per violation.

Connecticut legalized internet gambling and sports betting in May 2021 after the Lamont administration reached an agreement earlier in the year with the Mohegan Tribe and Mashantucket Pequot Tribe, allowing both tribes and the Connecticut Lottery Corporation to offer different forms of online gambling.

Blackjack Cheating Investigation

The move to now require licensure of live dealer employees comes as the DCP continues to investigate an alleged cheating scam involving an online dealer for live-game provider Evolution Gaming, who was accused of cheating and defrauding DraftKings by manipulating blackjack hand and placing bets.

Krasselt said a state court judge is still awaiting Sebastian Echeverri’s plea, with his next scheduled court date on July 13. He turned himself in on March 29 after learning of the warrant for his arrest, and was charged with one count of larceny and one count of cheating for defrauding DraftKings out of at least $47,000.

Evolution is licensed by the DCP to host online casino dealer games provided to DraftKings and FanDuel in Connecticut.

Investigators with the DCP have alleged that Echeverri, an Evolution employee, used his access to card decks to either memorize a series of cards or even manipulate a series of cards to then place favorable bets on the outcome, using three separate DraftKings accounts.

Echeverri’s job functions required him to work as a shuffler, preparing decks of playing cards while the dealer interacts with the players over the video feed.

Records examined during the investigation revealed that one or more of the three DraftKings accounts allegedly controlled by Echeverri demonstrated a pattern of placing abnormally high bets after he had handled the cards, according to authorities.

In total, Evolution representatives estimated that Echeverri exploited his role as a shuffler during at least 26 different games, the Connecticut State Police said in a statement.

Evolution was alerted to the scheme during the normal course of its business monitoring, when one of the three DraftKings accounts allegedly controlled by Echeverri was flagged for suspicious gaming activity from approximately July through December of 2022.

Messages left with Evolution last week seeking comment were not returned.

“Any disciplinary action against Evolution will be made after our investigation is complete and the criminal case against (Sebastian) Echeverri,” Krasselt said.

Meanwhile, another bill sent to Lamont on Wednesday was House Bill 5232, or Public Act 23-68, that will prohibit public colleges in Connecticut from partnering with sportsbooks to solicit students to gamble.

The new law, scheduled to go into effect on July 1, still allows public universities to accept sponsorships from gaming companies without the ability to directly market sports wagering to students.

Under the revised legislation, “directly solicit” means to make direct contact with a person through mail, telephone, electronic mail, in-person communication or any other means for the purpose of inducing such person to make a transaction.

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