Connecticut Lawmakers Not Certain About Legalizing Sports Betting Before Next Year
On Thursday, Connecticut Governor Dannel P Malloy announced that his administration could soon have a proposal ready to take on legal sports betting, but it’s not likely they will have it ready to go until regular session beginning in January 2019. The proposal would have to lay the groundwork for both managing and profiting from legal sports betting in Connecticut. It isn’t clear at this point if the legislature will come into a special session before the end of this year.
Malloy leaves office on January 9, 2019. He held a briefing with legislative leaders to go over the talks his administration has had with the state’s two tribal casinos as well as other stakeholders. He asked the lawmakers if they would let him know very soon if they want to work with him to come to an agreement about legal betting in the state, or leave it to the person who will take over the role of Governor after he leaves.
According to The CT Mirror, after the meeting with legislators for a closed-door session on Thursday, Malloy said:
“The bottom line is in the last few weeks real action has taken place. People have started to move in a direction where I think an agreement could ultimately be reached with respect to who could operate within our state, how they would operate within their state, what could be bet on, and the like.” He went on to say that “It’s possible an agreement could be reached and legislative action could be called upon. I asked them for input on that matter, whether they intend to come into session.”
None of the participants at that meeting were willing to discuss the next step, other than to say that they were still discussing matters and that Governor Malloy was just letting them know what was going on and where things stood.
Malloy also said he’s not focused so much on just tax revenue, but the betting and gaming industry as a whole. The state has lost a lot of revenue since other states have started offering legal gambling. Additionally, illegal gambling also takes a huge chunk of revenue from the state. Malloy wants the state to remain competitive and obtain and maintain market share.
Legal Sports Gambling in Connecticut
Right now, Connecticut is just one of many states without any legislation to allow it now that the Supreme Court has lifted the federal ban on sports betting. Connecticut officials have to figure out if the state will allow sports gambling, and what role the state will have in managing it. In the meantime, residents are either taking to illegal outlets, offshore sportsbooks or heading to a nearby state like New Jersey where sports betting is legal.
Legal Sports Betting In Nearby States
Since PASPA was overturned as being unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in May 2018, opening the door to legal sports betting in individual states, several states jumped on the opportunity. Outside of Nevada, where it’s been legal all along, the first sports book was opened in Delaware, followed shortly by locations in New Jersey and Mississippi as each state passed its own legislation. Rhode Island has passed legislation allowing legal sports betting, and so has New York, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia.
Connecticut Tribal Casinos
The challenge in Connecticut when it comes to sports gambling is that since the beginning of the 1990s, tribal casinos in the southeastern part of Connecticut have had an agreement that said they had exclusive rights to casino gambling in exchange for the state receiving 25% of the video slot receipts. If Connecticut legalizes sports gambling, the tribes would have the right to open sportsbooks, and no one is sure right now if sports betting would or should be considered a form of casino gambling. This is just one example of the many different issues Malloy has been discussing with the state’s tribes.
The Mohegan and Mashantucket Pequot tribes, which own the Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods Resorts Casino, are projected to pay $204 million dollars into Connecticut’s coffers in 2018. That number would obviously go up should sports betting become legal at the tribal casinos as well. Preliminary estimates said that CT could see another $40 million to 80 million dollars each year by implementing fees on sports gambling.
Any new sports betting deals will most likely have to obtain authorization with the Bureau of Indian Affairs. The BIA would have up to 90 days to examine new systems involving gambling with the state’s tribes prior to making any legal decision.
Of course, Connecticut could very well decide that sports betting is not a part of casino betting, and the venture could be opened up to other vendors. These might include off-ac betting facilities, which are run and owned by a British company, Sportech PLC, that already has many years of experience in the sports betting system, or the Connecticut Lottery Corp., which could distribute the opportunity among thousands of local retailers.
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