Connecticut does not have any statute addressing the legality or illegality of online poker, nor has it ever seriously considered enacting any such statute. The state Department of Consumer Protection addresses the issue in an FAQ, claiming that internet gambling (and, by extention, poker) is illegal because it’s not specifically authorized by law.
That interpretation of the law is probably more expansive than existing Connecticut statutes support, but poker is clearly “gambling” under Connecticut law and is therefore illegal by express terms of CGS §53-278a. Operators would probably argue Connecticut has no jurisdiction over them outside of the state of Connecticut, but Connecticut does have a gambling transmission law that applies to the transmission of gambling information – which is clearly required from one computer to another in order to play online poker.
Thankfully for players, no online poker player has ever been prosecuted for playing online poker. Similarly, operators located outside the state have never been prosecuted for offering online poker to Connecticut residents.
There are only two places to legally play live poker in the state of Connecticut, but those two places are both among the largest poker rooms on the east coast of the United States. Although Connecticut does not issue state licenses for any types of gaming outside of racing and certain charitable games, it has entered into two tribal-state compacts with two local Native American tribes. Those tribes operate Foxwoods Casino and Mohegan Sun Casino, each of which has a robust poker room.
Outside of those two tribal casinos, Connecticut strictly controls gambling. Poker is strictly defined under Connecticut General Statutes §53-278a as “gambling”. Gambling and profiting from the operation of a gambling game are misdemeanors under the law if conducted by anyone other than the two federally recognized Indian tribes that operate casinos in Connecticut.
CGS §53-278b provides a social or home game exception to Connecticut’s anti-gambling laws. To qualify for the home poker game exception, the game must be part of a bona fide social relationship among the players and nobody can profit from the game (other than as a player).