Daily Casino Gambling News - December 26, 2019: Connecticut Governor Wants Sports Betting

Written by:
Gilbert Horowitz
Published on:

Connecticut's odds of legalizing sports betting are a little longer than some states.  This is due to the Tribal influence and some conflicts with state lawmakers.

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Governor Ned Lamont has made it clear he wants sports wagering legalized in the state.

Emails obtained by the Associated Press show Lamont felt he was close to the finish line in negotiating with the Tribes.

With this news, Gambling911.com has seen a surge in search traffic related to sports betting at Foxwoods in particular.

Talks in May with the with the chairman of the Mashantucket Pequots, Rodney A. Butler, soon hit a snag however.

“I’m very disappointed at where we are — we put a good deal on the table (in my opinion) and we worked to make it work for your end — investing a lot of time and understanding there would be give and take for both sides. Let’s discuss,” Lamont wrote in a May 8 email to Butler, obtained by The Associated Press through a public records request.

From NBC Connecticut:

In exchange for exclusive rights to certain forms of gambling, the tribes currently provide the state 25% of slot-machine revenues, which amounts to about $270 million annually. The tribes have said they believe their exclusivity rights include sports wagering.

Lamont has also wanted to reach a “global gaming resolution that will avoid years and years of complex litigation” while strengthening the state’s gambling industry.

And it's not just the Tribes that present an obstacle in Connecticut.  Lamont also hopes to avoid legal wrangling with MGM Resorts, the casino company that has challenged the state’s decision to authorize a third tribal casino in East Windsor that has not yet opened.

Last week Lamont told reporters he hopes to keep things simple moving forward.

“Rather than maybe go for a whole hog, let’s find places where we think we can get some agreement,” he said Friday. “I’d like a global agreement. I’d like to solve everything for world peace. But in the meantime, I’m going to take what I can get.”

The Tribes are not against sports betting.

Jeff Hamilton, the new general manager of Mohegan Sun, recently told the Associated Press that sports betting would be beneficial for all sides.

“We’re hopeful that the governor and the state is going to be able to get that approved,” he said. “I think it’s gotten mucked up in this comprehensive gaming bill. And while we understand that, we understand that the state’s trying to look at gaming in totality, I think to keep on kicking the can down the road and every month that sports betting does not exist is another month where the state is not generating as much revenue as they possibly can. … It seems counterintuitive, with the current economic states of the state budget.”

Lamont and the Tribes face stiff opposition from legislators who oppose the Tribes having exclusivity on a mobile Connecticut sports betting platform.

“There wasn’t a lot of support for that, recognizing that the money is in the mobile platform when it comes to sports betting,” said Rep. Joe Verrengia, who co-chairs the Joint Committee on Public Safety and Security.

From LegalSportsReport:

“If we think that we can just go ahead tomorrow and sign an exclusivity agreement with the tribes and there would be no litigation, then we’re just fooling ourselves,” Verrengia said.

“So, how can we get our sports betting moving forward without having to play it out in the courtroom? It’s really all parties, the state, the tribes and other stakeholders working together to try to come up with an amicable agreement. To this point, that hasn’t happened.”

Butler contends that the legislation proposed by Osten benefits the tribes, state, municipalities and the people of Connecticut. But it’s getting held back for not benefiting MGM and some external sports betting companies.

Connecticut does have a partial sports betting law on the books that prompts regulators to establish rules for the industry once federal law changes, and it has.   The US Supreme Court overturned decades of prohibition.  This gave the green light to any state that wants the activity.

Verrengia and others do not believe sports betting and online casinos are covered by the current compact.

Butler remains optimistic that sports betting will get done, telling LSR “it’s 100%. We’re going to get it done. We have to figure it out; there’s no way around it. We need to be competitive from the state’s perspective and as two tribal nations, so we’re going to do that.”

- Gilbert Horowitz, Gambling911.com

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